It was at Pittsburgh's fall instructional league last September, shortly after the end of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League season, that Stetson Allie really felt like it was going to work.
The second-round pick in the 2010 Draft -- as a pitcher -- was trying to make a go of it as a hitter. His GCL season had delivered modest returns, but his confidence swelled as the instructional league went on.
"They gave me two weeks off after the GCL season, but I came back early to work with hitting coaches," Allie said. "Our first game out, I felt like I had a great approach, and then just stuck with it. That moment I was like, 'I can do this.' I was having more fun as a hitter, more confident. Right then I was like, 'I'm gonna have a good year next year.'"
Plenty of players probably have those kinds of gut feelings every winter. But a month into this season, few are bearing out quite like Allie's.
The Class A West Virginia first baseman produced his second multi-homer game of April on Monday, going yard in the third and seventh innings to pick up five RBIs as the Power cruised past the Savannah Sand Gnats, 10-1.
The 22-year-old probably couldn't have conceived of a much better start to his season. In 24 games with West Virginia, Allie is hitting .351/.409/.660 with eight homers, six doubles and 26 RBIs.
It's more than a little improvement on the .213/.314/.340 line he produced in 42 GCL games last year, made all the more remarkable by the jump to the full-season South Atlantic League.
"I'm not surprised, not really," Allie said of the early success. "I put so much work and effort in with hitting coaches and staff, I expected this. I'm a real confident guy. I put in the work in the offseason, last year in the GCL, I expected to have a good year.
"The first thing I noticed [at fall instructs] was that, I can do this. I'm a good enough athlete to do it. I really believe in myself."
Allie's first two-homer game came April 13 against Asheville. He hit six in his first 13 games, in fact, before cooling off a bit in the past two weeks. Coming into Monday's contest, he'd been hitting .250 (9-for-36) in his last 10 appearances, with just two extra base hits.
The key to coming out of a mini-slump like that, Allie said, was to stay consistent and let baseball's laws of averages work themselves out.
"The biggest thing is to not try to hit the home runs. I take the same approach, whether you go 0-for-4 or 4-for-4. Baseball has some mind games, it's important to just stay with that same approach," he said.
After Monday, Allie sat tied for first in the South Atlantic League in homers with Hickory's Joey Gallo. He's also second in RBIs and slugging percentage and fifth in average.
The most important thing, though, is to get through an entire season in one piece and help his team succeed, Allie said.
"[The season] has been a blast. Not only has it been fun having success, but the team we got here is a great group of guys. So talented and so young, it's been a blessing honestly just to start out here and have this much success," he noted.
Barrett Barnes, a Pirates first-rounder in last year's Draft, went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI out of the leadoff spot for the Power. No. 6 Pittsburgh prospect Josh Bell doubled twice and drove in three runs.
Tyler Glasnow (1-0) scattered two hits and two walks while striking out seven over five scoreless innings for the win.