08/18/10 9:14 PM EST
Bucs introduce second-round pick Allie
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
It was -- quite frankly -- a moment the Pirates had feared would never happen.
That unlikelihood had nothing to do with Allie's bonus demands, as the Pirates were ready and willing to pay their second-round Draft choice first-round money from the start. They valued him that much.
Rather, it had everything to do with the 50 players that the Pirates knew had to be taken in between their selection of Jameson Taillon (No. 2 overall) and the organization's first pick of the second round.
A teenage right-hander who has been clocked at 100 mph (and he says up to 102 mph), surely wouldn't fall out of both the first and supplemental rounds. But as Allie's name remained on the board as one pick after another was made, Huntington and the scouting department began to start dreaming.
"As we got to the middle of the first round and the bottom of it and he was still on the board, there was some optimism that maybe he was going to get to us," Huntington said.
"In Stetson's case, with where we were picking, we didn't anticipate that we'd be able to select him with our next pick," scouting director Greg Smith added on Wednesday. "For us to be able to have Stetson available in the second round, our room was kind of giddy to take what we felt was a legitimate first-round talent."
Indeed, the Pirates have their guy now, that becoming official on Monday when Allie agreed to a signing bonus worth $2.25 million. The Pirates have handed out a higher bonus to a Draft pick only five other times, with all five of those being first-round selections.
On Wednesday, Allie was introduced to the city in a press conference just a little more than two hours away from his Cleveland-area home. It was the final step of a more than two-month process that concludes as Allie next heads to observe the Pirates' low-Class A West Virginia affiliate before participating in the team's fall instructional league.
"It's pretty exciting for me and the whole family," Allie said. "It's great to see a Major League jersey with my name on the back. I'd love to help change this club around as best as I can. I'll do whatever I can on the field."
While Allie projected that he could be pitching at PNC Park in two or three years, that timetable might be a bit lengthier if he makes the Minor League climb as a starter. And for now, that remains the organization's plan.
"I think sometimes when you hear bullpen come out of his mouth, he knows that's the fast track," Smith said. "If you look at some of the young guns, if you want to go fast, bullpen is the way to go. But I know deep down he wants to start, and we think he has the traits and the overall package to start."
Those traits don't just include a power arm and developing offspeed pitches. They also include a passion, intensity and work ethic that Huntington has observed for the past six years. Allie's father, Danny, runs an Ohio baseball facility where Huntington's oldest son used to play in the winter. The Indians, Huntington's former employer, also used the complex in the offseason.
As a result, Huntington and Danny Allie became good friends. And that relationship gave Huntington the chance to observe Danny Allie's son at an early age. He still remembers what he saw.
"He stood out as a high school player, just doing things differently than most young players," Huntington said. "He was a gym rat. He was around the facility all the time. It seemed like almost every one of my son's games, he was in the tunnel or somewhere around the facility. You knew that he loved the game.
"He is very fundamentally sound," Huntington added. "You can tell he's been taught well by his father."
Allie's father, who has coached a handful of Major Leaguers, including Johnny Damon and A.J. Pierzynski, also served as his son's high school coach at St. Edward, which captured a state championship in June.
"After coaching him for all these years, you dream about this day," Danny Allie said. "It's a reality now. He's accomplished part of the dream. The other part of the dream is being at PNC Park pitching at the big league level. He'll be there. He's a hard worker. He's smart. He's talented.
"We're so excited to help get this organization where it deserves to be for the fans," he added. "He's excited for that part of it."
Danny Allie joked that it "killed him" to have to watch Stetson spend the summer away from baseball, something that had to be done during the negotiation process. Stetson took a full six weeks off at the end of his high school season to recover both physically and mentally, but since then he has dedicated himself to strength and cardio work.
He was checking bags at the Houston airport on Monday morning, when he finally got the call that will get him back on the field.
"I was more excited than ever," said Allie, who had traveled to Texas to undergo a physical. "But then the plane ride home was not very exciting. [It was] just too long of a plane ride."
The decision to sign with the Pirates means Allie is foregoing a scholarship at the University of North Carolina.
"It was tough at first, but with the opportunity the Pirates were giving me, it got a little bit easier," Allie said. "I think I made the right decision."
The Pirates were simply thrilled that Allie had such a decision to make.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.