By Jim Lane
CURVE, Pa. – From pitcher to first base, from first base to right field. That’s been the path Altoona Curve player Stetson Allie has had to follow during his pro baseball career. It hasn’t always been easy, but Allie somehow maintains a positive attitude.
“I just try to have fun,” Allie said recently at Peoples Natural Gas Field. “Every day is a new day. It’s just a game, something we’ve done since we were little.
“You just keep working and everything will fall into place.”
An Ohio native, Allie played at St. Edward’s, which has one of the top high school athletic programs in the state. After playing some football and basketball –“I was a zero in basketball,” he said — Allie decided to concentrate on baseball at St. Ed’s.
As a senior, Allie went 9-1 with a 1.29 ERA with 134 strikeouts in 60 innings pitched. Ranked by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect in the country, he was drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 2010 MLB draft.
A 6-foot-2, 230-pounder, Allie had a power arm that reached the mid-90s, but control problems did him in and the Pirates eventually decided his future was not in pitching.
He spent all of 2011 at short-season State College beginning the season as a starter and finishing in the bullpen. He began 2012 as a pitcher with low-A West Virginia, but was sent to extended spring training and repackaged as a position player.
“I was a closer and DH,” said Allie, who batted .213 in 42 games with the GCL Pirates. He also played first and third base.
The big guy began 2013 with West Virginia and did well, batting .324 with 17 homers and 61 RBIs in 66 games. That earned Allie a promotion to high-A Bradenton where he struggled at the plate, hitting only .229 in 66 games.
Allie played all of 2014 and 2015 with the Curve and produced good power numbers. He batted .246 with 21 homers and 62 RBIs in 117 games in 2014. Last year, he belted 17 homers and had 58 RBIs, but hit only .205.
He played first base in 2014 and was moved to right field in 2015 to make room for prospect Josh Bell.
“I put in the work and did well at first,” Allie said. “I had fun with it, but there wasn’t much I could do when they said I was going to the outfield. I accepted the challenge as an outfielder and rolled with it.
“I tried to be the best first baseman I could be and now I’m trying to be the best in right field.”
Allie is back with the Curve for his third season and is in a four-player rotation for the three outfield spots. He’s again showing good power, but he still lacks consistency at the plate.
“His situation is different,” Curve manager Joey Cora said. “He started as a pitcher, so even though he has a few years of pro ball, he still doesn’t have that much experience still learning the strike zone. The more at-bats he gets, the better he’ll become.
“He has a lot of power and he has a great arm,” Cora said, “and he’s improved greatly in the outfield, but he’s still learning at the plate.
“The best hitters swing at strikes,” Cora noted. “They don’t swing at balls and that’s tough to learn. It comes with experience.”
Allie says he likes this year’s Curve team because “we have good chemistry.”
“Right now, for me, I have to be a more consistent hitter to go to the next level,” he said.