On Logan Allen's 19th birthday, the Midwest League's youngest pitcher performed beyond his years.
San Diego's No. 7 prospect faced the minimum as he gave up two hits and struck out five over a career-long six innings Monday in Class A Fort Wayne's 3-0 shutout of West Michigan at Parkview Field.
Allen (3-2) matched up against the Whitecaps for the second time in 11 days. The first time, he was roughed up for three runs on six hits over four innings. The left-hander was determined to prevent a repeat on Monday.
"[Last time] I wasn't keeping pitches down in the zone," Allen said. "Today, I just came out firing fastballs at the knees. My curveball was pretty good today and had good shape, good life to it. But really my fastball was what dominated. I was throwing it in, out, up, down."
West Michigan managed just a bloop single over the mound by David Gonzalez in the fourth inning and a line drive up the middle by Will Allen in the fifth. Both runners were erased by double-play grounders.
"My goal lately has been to limit my pitches because [a lot of] my outings have been four innings with 70 pitches," Logan Allen said. "So as soon as I started getting runners on I was starting to think, 'Ground-ball pitch here.'"
The Florida native said a mechanical tweak has allowed him to pitch with such efficiency more often.
"Lately, it's been just staying back on my delivery, not rushing toward home plate," Allen said. "I get pretty amped up and I'm a very aggressive guy when it comes to my delivery. I've been working a lot with our pitching coordinator [Mark Prior] and my pitching coach, Burt Hooton, on just staying back, slowing things down a little and smoothing it out."
The results have shown, and not just in Monday's outing. In the month of May, Allen ranks seventh in the Midwest League in WHIP with a 0.90 mark and he has walked just one batter over a 20-inning span.
An eighth-round pick of Boston in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft, Allen came to San Diego in the November trade for Craig Kimbrel. A Braves fan growing up, he was initially shocked to be included in the return for the former Atlanta closer.
"At first, the transition was very difficult. Just a surprise," Allen said. "I mean, I was getting ready for Spring Training in Fort Myers when I got the phone call. The Red Sox called me and told me, 'You were traded for Craig Kimbrel.' And I was just like, 'Wow. What's going on? How do I do this?'"
But now the former IMG Academy standout has settled in with his new organization, and not just because of his own play.
"The development side and the front office is definitely one-of-a-kind, they're doing great things with this new staff," Allen said. "Mark Prior ... is somebody I couldn't ask more of. They've honestly made it very easy."
The southpaw counts the birthday victory among the best starts in his young career.
"Doing this on my 19th birthday is definitely a good thing," he said with a laugh. "It got my teammates riled up a little bit, and they got the bats going for me to get me a win. It felt great. Hopefully, this 19th birthday is just a sparkplug to the start of some more good outings."
Sandy Baez (1-5) surrendered three runs on seven hits and struck out four over six innings for West Michigan.
Alex Kraft is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and chat with him on Twitter @Alex_Kraft21.