Hawks' Allen realizing his dream

Released by indy league team, D-backs prospect thriving

Brad Allen gave up four runs in his Minor League debut on May 5. (Arkansas State Univ.)

By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com | May 12, 2013 4:37 PM ET

Brad Allen went undrafted out of high school and did not get a second look from scouts while he pitched in junior college or at two four-year colleges.

It wasn't until the end of his first season with his second Frontier League club that one organization -- the D-backs -- gave him a baseball lifeline. Since then, the 24-year-old right-hander has been making every opportunity count.

In his second Minor League game Sunday, Allen allowed one run on two hits while striking out nine batters over nine innings as Class A South Bend posted a 2-1, 10-inning victory over West Michigan.

"It was not an easy journey by any means, it was not typical," Allen said. "But I finally realized that it was my career and that what I do on the field will take me as far as I can go.

"The whole journey to where I am now told me that I had to change something that I was doing to be successful."

Allen allowed back-to-back singles and a run-scoring groundout in the top of the second. But that was all the offense the Whitecaps managed against him. After plunking Lance Durham in the fifth, he set down the next 15 Whitecaps.

Frank Santana (4-0) used a double play to face the minimum in the 10th and Kevin Medrano won the game for the Silver Hawks with a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the frame.

"It was just one of those days, getting ahead and executing pitches," said Allen, who throws a fastball, changeup, curveball and slider. "When I got runners on [in the second], I got a ground ball and my defense made great plays for me.

"I had a lot of quick innings, got our team back in the dugout and got our hitters back in the box. It was a mechanical change that I made from my last start and that I've been working on in the bullpen this week. I was getting out in front with my pitches. ... Today, I was driving straight toward the plate and not going across my body and just using the natural movement of the two-seamer."

For a while, it looked as though Allen's dream of pitching in the Majors would never make it out of the starting gate.

"After my first year in the Frontier [League], I just didn't know," said Allen, who faced one batter over the minimum Sunday. "When you're in there, you're scratching and clawing because there are a lot of good pitchers and you're just hoping to get seen by doing something different or more effective than everyone else. I'm thankful I got this chance."

Allen was a conference MVP at Geneva High School in Illinois and earned all-conference honors at Eglin Community College before attending Northern Illinois University. Pitching for Arkansas State in 2011, he went 3-5 with a 5.56 ERA in a team-high 15 starts.

Allen's name went uncalled during the Draft, so he latched on with the independent Rockford RiverHawks. Cut during spring workouts, he was again out of work until the Florence Freedom picked him up last August. Allen signed with the D-backs in December and joined the team in Arizona in mid-February.

"I actually get left in extended spring training in Arizona another month and I got to South Bend about 10 days ago," he said.

"The biggest thing I learned is to never get down. If they're getting hits, don't slam your cap down. Throw a better pitch and look within yourself."

West Michigan's Devon Travis beat out an infield single to extend his hitting streak to a Midwest League season-high 20 games. Chad Smith (0-2) took the loss after allowing a run on three hits and two walks over one-plus innings.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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