Greetings Curve fans, this is your new broadcaster, Mike Baggerman. To be honest with you, I didn’t think Mike Passanisi would hire me because we share the same first name. Broadcasting is a funny world…but I suppose I owe a thanks to Mike & Mike on ESPN (and Passo for not being cruel).
Anyway… I’m originally from Binghamton (yes, home the rival B-Mets) and this is my fourth season in minor league baseball plus my second within the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Last season, I broadcasted for the Pirates Low-A Affiliate in West Virginia and was privileged to see some future Curve players first-hand.
As the ninth hitter on my high school baseball team, I realized that playing baseball for a career was a hokey goal, so I did the next best thing…broadcasting. I just wanted to watch baseball for a living so broadcasting seemed like the obvious goal and I’ve loved it ever since.
This is the first blog entry I’m writing for you. My opinions will be on here a lot. Just like any opinion, it’s subjective…so read it with an open mind.
When you catch a game this year at PNG Field, you might see some of the most mammoth home runs ever seen in person. Last year in West Virginia and Bradenton, baseball fans and media alike witnessed the potential of a young prospect in the Pirates organization. His name is Stetson Allie, and he is my player to watch in 2014.
When I first heard that Allie might get the call to Double-A, I was surprised. The 22-year-old first baseman (who turns 23 Wednesday) dominated the South Atlantic League during his half-season in West Virginia last year (.324 AVG, 17 HR, 81 RBI, .607 SLG%) and was selected as the starting first-baseman in the All-Star Game. After the mid-summer classic, Allie made the drive to High-A Bradenton to finish the season with the Marauders.
That’s where the surprise comes in.
Allie’s numbers diminished during his time with the Marauders (.229 AVG, 4 HR, 25 RBI, .356 SLG%). Numbers dropping like certainly raise the eyebrows among a lot of skeptics especially now that he’s making the jump to Altoona. Last season I had a chance to learn about challenges at different levels in minor league baseball from the Power coaching staff, a crew that all had three former big leaguers.
The biggest conclusion drawn was that the jump from High-A to Double-A is the toughest to handle for a lot of players but I think Allie can handle it. Maybe it’s my can-do attitude that makes me optimistic for the subject, but it helps that Allie reportedly dropped weight while still being able to hit the ball for power.
Here’s an excerpt from Tim Williams of Pirates prospects who puts Allie’s offseason transformation into perspective:
“Allie didn’t need to lose weight,” Tim said in his article. “He said he lost weight to improve his game, and just because he felt he would be better if he lost the weight. When it comes to the batting stance, he sought out help from people who knew his swing, and people he trusted. As someone who saw him last year in Bradenton at the end of the year, and has seen him this year, I can tell you that the swing looks much better. The swing last year had a lot of effort. The swing this year looks natural, and the ball just flies off his bat. I didn’t need Allie telling me that he fixed his swing. I already saw that.”
(To read the entire article from Tim Williams: Click HERE)
Physics weren’t my bread and butter in school, but common sense tells me that because Allie lost some weight, he will have a slight increase in speed not just running the base paths, but at the plate. He can make better adjustments on breaking pitches because of the changes.
I don’t think Allie will have a season like he did in West Virginia. He also won’t have the low numbers like he did in Bradenton. I think if he stays healthy (if he does in fact start in the EL), Allie can put up steady numbers and as he gets more acclimated to the Eastern League could be a future MVP if he stays in the league for more than one year.