After leading Seminole High School to it’s first state championship since 1992 as a high school senior, Matthew Allan entered the draft ranked among the best prep pitchers in this year’s class. While his talent on the mound was undeniable, a strong commitment to the University of Florida and other concerns scared teams away from drafting him in the draft’s early rounds. Allan ended up going undrafted through the end of the first day of the draft, prompting the Mets to reach out to his representatives. He was still available on day two when the Mets made their first pick, 11th of the afternoon and the Mets selected him with the 89th overall selection. Having done their due diligence that Allan would forgo his commitment to the University of Florida for an overslot bonus that the team would be able to meet, the Mets began employing a strategy of aggressive bonus pool manipulation in which they took inexpensive college seniors in rounds four through twelve in order to save enough money to eventually offer Allan a $2.5 million signing bonus, almost triple the $667,900 bonus pool allotment for the selection.
Allan signed with the Mets as the deadline to sign 2019 draftees approached, and was assigned to the GCL Mets to start his professional career. He generally dominated complex league hitters, allowing just one run on five hits and four walks, and striking out 11 batters in 8.1 innings of work. As the GCL season drew to a premature close, the Mets promoted Allan to the New York-Penn League to help bolster the Brooklyn Cyclones’ pitching staff as they sought to secure a playoff spot. Allan debuted for the Cyclones against the Staten Island Yankees in their last series of the season, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk in two innings. While his statistical performance left something to be desired, Allan did strike out three and generally showcased the advanced repertoire that led evaluators to rank him among the best prep pitchers in this year’s draft class. The Cyclones clinched a postseason berth on the last day of the season, and Allan threw five perfect innings with two strikeouts in two multi-inning relief appearances for the Cyclones in the playoffs. His season ended on a high note, throwing three perfect innings in Brooklyn’s championship clinching victory over the Lowell Spinners in game three of the NYPL Championship Series, putting the perfect cap on a successful first season in professional baseball.
While generally more filled out than I was expecting him to be, particularly in the lower body, Allan still has at least a little bit of room left in his 6’3”, 225-pound frame to add muscle and strength as he gets older. It’s possible that Allan adds a tick or two to his fastball as he enters his twenties, but he already throws the pitch with comfortably above-average velocity, thanks in part to his strong lower-half and fluid mechanics. He uses a relatively high leg kick as he begins his delivery, and makes an effort to turn slightly towards second base as he reaches its apex in order to fully involve his lower body and core in building momentum. His ideal starting pitcher’s build, coupled with his strong, effortless mechanics, should help him hold up under a starter’s workload as he begins to build up innings moving forward.
Allan’s effortless mechanics helped him sit between 94 and 95 MPH with the fastball across both outings of his I saw, and he generates a decent amount of arm-side movement on the pitch, possibly as a result of the three-quarters arm slot that he throws it from. He generally commanded the pitch well, working it to both sides of the plate consistently. The pitch generally grades out somewhere between above-average and plus at present, and its ultimate grade will probably hinge on how consistently he is able to prevent the pitch from straightening out as he begins to build up innings.
Allan complements the fastball with an exceptional curveball that is probably his best offering at present. The pitch sits in the high-70s-to-low-80s, and generates extremely sharp 11-5 break as it approaches the plate. He clearly has excellent feel for spin, and has a lot of trust in its effectiveness. He leaned pretty heavily on the curve in his lone regular season appearance for the Cyclones, and while he did leave one or two of them up in the zone by mistake, he was generally able to command the pitch, intentionally landing it in the strike zone and and burying it as a chase pitch on more than one occasion. The pitch is comfortably plus at present, and could end up grading out higher as he learns to command it down in the zone a little more consistently. The pitch has all of the ingredients needed to develop into an out-pitch at the big league level at some point down the line.
Allan rounds out his arsenal with an 85-87 MPH change-up that has considerable promise despite being a bit inconsistent at present. During his lone appearance of the regular season for Brooklyn, Allan threw a few good versions of the pitch and a few bad, but clearly favored the curveball when he got ahead. In his outing in the NYPL semi-finals against Hudson Valley, Allan leaned more heavily on the change-up than he had previously, and managed to throw the good version of the pitch more consistently than he did during his NYPL debut a week earlier. When it’s working, the pitch tumbles down and away from left-handed hitters as it approaches the plate. When it’s not, it tends to stay a bit firm and cut across the plate instead of fading away. The pitch projects to grade out somewhere between average and above-average in the future, depending on how consistently he is able to get the good version of the pitch to show up in games.
While Allan is generally very advanced for a pitcher of his age and level of experience, it is important to remember that there is still a good amount of risk inherent in his profile. Allan is a prep pitcher after all, and prep pitchers are generally considered to be the riskiest type of prospect taken in the draft each year. These risks are definitely as important to note when discussing Allan’s future, as they are for any highly ranked pitcher from the prep ranks, and it’s definitely worth keeping in mind that the path to pitching in a big league rotation is seldom linear and often comes with its fair share of detours and derailments along the way. Despite the risks inherent in the profile, Allan’s deep repertoire and current level of polish give him more upside than any other pitcher currently in the system, and the skills he displayed in his first taste of professional baseball should cement his place as one of the most exciting pitching prospects to come through the organization in recent memory.