Athletics' Allen on adjusting to pro ball, improving defensively

Athletics' Allen on adjusting to pro ball, improving defensively

This week on the MLBPipeline Podcast, host Tim McMaster and resident prospect gurus Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo talk to Athletics No. 13 prospect Nick Allen The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's episode of the Pipeline Podcast.

McMaster: "I guess my first question, Nick, will be the obvious one. You know, 17 games under your belt in Arizona. How has the adapting to pro ball gone for you so far?"

Allen: "You know it's been good so far. Every day is something new. Just learning, trying to go out there and be my best self every day."

Mayo: "Nick, following up on that just a little bit. What's been the biggest difference? Obviously you played high level of baseball in Southern California, high school ranks, you did the summer showcase thing. You played against good competition, but what's been the biggest difference between what you've seen in this Rookie-level league and what you had been used to?"

Allen: "I think the biggest thing to adjust to has really been the speed of the game. Balls are hit a lot harder. People are a lot faster. Pitchers are able to command about three pitches. It's all different, but it's just an adjustment. Just getting used to it. So I think being able to play all these games is definitely helpful, and it's only going hopefully make me better. So I'm definitely excited for the opportunity that I have here."

McMaster: "Nick, I want to go back to Draft night, Draft day with you real quick. Obviously there had to be a little disappointment, I would think, in not going on Day 1 of the Draft, but then you end up going to Oakland on Day 2 in the third round, and as far as the bonus goes and everything, that all obviously worked out with the A's coming through. Just kind of take us through those couple of days. Did it feel like kind of an emotional roller-coaster ride for you?"

Allen: "I mean, yes and no. We definitely had a plan going into it to stay true to what I believe in myself. And I'm very fortunate to be advised by a great group on Excel Sports Management, and they just told me to stay calm, stay calm. It's going to get done. So I'm just very thankful for all that."

Mayo: "Nick, how much easier does it get for you to be able to have, obviously everyone where you're playing, the level you're at right now, is kind of in the same boat as you. Austin Beck is a guy, a first-round pick, another high school kid. Obviously he may be a little bit behind just because he missed time, last summer he didn't play. But being in the same part of the process as a guy like Austin, as a high school kid just starting out. Does that make the transition any easier for you?"

Allen: "I mean, yeah, of course. You know we're there every step of the way for each other. We're actually roommates, too, so that makes it even better. We're able to talk about certain things, just to keep our heads straight, keep going and also I feel like we've grown as good friends, so I think that's awesome."

Mayo: "So I think the important thing, and it's one thing you actually can sort of hold over him is that you've hit more homers than he has. And I know coming into the Draft, Nick, everyone talked about your power. No, I'm just kidding. Take us through that a little bit. Obviously it's not a major part of your game, but that must have been pretty fun to get that first pro homer out of the way."

Allen: "That was awesome. Honestly it just came as a surprise because it was the first pitch of the game, and we were the away team. So I just jumped on it early, an inside fastball, and you know, just hit it left-center, a line drive and it just kept carrying. It just went over. Definitely a surprise, but I know I can do that, but I also know that it's not really part of my game yet. So just to say keep hitting line drives, keep getting on base, I think that's what I'm just focusing on now."

McMaster: "I like that yet. It'll come. It'll come, Nick. The one thing that is a big part of your game is obviously the glove and what you're able to do defensively at shortstop. And we've been running that highlight play from the Perfect Game All-American Game last summer over and over again in all of our clips just kind of showing off what you can do. But just talk about that and the focus on the defense. And when you go into pro ball and you're already known as a great defender, just talk about the motivation to keep working at it and to get better defensively."

Allen: "Well yeah, I feel like being able to take a significant amount of ground balls every day is just only going to help me. And also to work on stuff that I need to work on. The hitters are a lot faster now, so balls in the hole I can't really round and do my normal thing that I usually do. I've got to be able to go backhand and get rid of it. So that's something that I'm just working on right now to keep getting better at, but definitely it's awesome to be able to do something every day and work to get better at it in a game that I love. So I'm just very thankful and fortunate."