Baseball's small world: Allen reunited with youth coach/mentor with O's

For left-hander Logan Allen, 24, joining the Orioles gives him another chance to establish himself as a pitcher in the major leagues. And it might be his best chance yet, not because of the opportunity he could get as much as who is here to greet him.

As he joined the Orioles officially this week – picked up via waivers from Cleveland on Thursday and added to the roster the next day – he is reunited with someone he has known since his childhood days in Orioles assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes.

Saying he is “really, really excited (to be here). Great opportunity, great organization,” this morning in the clubhouse, Allen noted his connection with Holmes.

“He was, like, my first coach ever. Taught me how to pitch,” he said.

Allen will be used out of the bullpen initially with the Orioles but could find his way into the rotation at some point, and manager Brandon Hyde noted they have that option with a pitcher who has made 15 career big league appearances as a starter and 15 in relief.

“I’ve done both. I love both,” Allen said. “I just want the ball and I want to be able to compete. Getting back to a consistent routine and getting back to what I did best. That is what I want and what the Orioles want.”

And getting back to working with someone he is very close with in Holmes.

“I grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. We lived three minutes from each other," noted Allen. "I went to school with his son. We were best friends growing up. Played baseball and he was, like, the first person that ever taught me how to pitch. Travel ball coach. A guy I went to for everything. He’s family to me. He was one of my first phone calls as soon as I got the news.

“It was exciting (to call him). It brought me back to when I was a child and growing up. Just kind of took a weight off my shoulders. I can get back to the basics and I get to go back to pitching how I want to pitch and work with these guys. It’s a much more comfortable conversation with a coach, working on things, tweaking things. He knows me better than anybody.”

Allen said he has known Holmes since he was nine or 10.

“He taught me how to throw a curveball. I throw the same one ever since,” he said. “He’s been a huge part of my career. Growing up all the way through pro ball.”

All pitching coaches have expertise to help pitchers in various ways. But few have such long-term relationships with players.

“I feel like everybody teaches differently," Allen said. "And because I’ve had such a relationship with him it’s going to be a lot easier to break things down and learn things. You know, hearing it from him because he has worked with me just makes everything so much more comfortable. Made it even easier to come to this clubhouse."

Allen went 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in six innings this year with Cleveland, allowing nine hits and three runs. He is 5-10 with a 5.80 ERA over 94 2/3 career innings from 2019-2022 with San Diego and Cleveland.

His velocity, per FanGraphs.com, was 94.1 mph in 2020 and then went down to 92.7 the next year, and was, on average, 90.9 mph this year.

Why the decrease?

“A lot of it was just trying to change some things with Cleveland,” he said. “Tweaking things here and there. You know, beginning of last year and this year was really when my velo has been the lowest when we were working on different arm slots and stuff. But getting back to where I am up here I expect the velo to come back and come back pretty quick. I’ve thrown the last couple days and the arm's feeling a lot more like it used to."

The Orioles hope with Allen they can unlock was once a top 100 prospect talent. He was ranked No. 92 on the Baseball America top 100 in 2019. He was as high as San Diego's No. 8 prospect and with Cleveland was No. 11 in 2020 and No. 14 in 2021.

 

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