As we continue our coverage of the 2017 MLB Draft, we take a look at Baseball America’s 27th ranked draft prospect, high school shortstop, Nick Allen.
Allen has been connected to the Cubs several times, and it’s been rumored that their front office really likes him. He’s projected to go somewhere in the late first round (potentially falling to early in the second), which places him easily within the Cubs’ grasp. Baseball America’s ranking even coincides perfectly with their spot in the draft order — 27.
MLB Pipeline’s 20/80 scale grades for Allen are as follows:
Hit: 55 / Power: 30 / Run: 65 / Arm: 55 / Field: 65 / Overall: 50
Allen’s defense is unreal. His proven prowess at short is undoubtedly his strongest asset, and he makes highlight reel plays consistently. The San Diego native’s impressive instinct is also evident in his base running skills. His ability to extend hits by an extra base and his base stealing both aid in making up for his lack of power.
His small-ball combination of fielding and running is complemented by his advanced bat. Through four years of high school, Allen has compiled a slash line of .373/.462/.540. He’s never been a power type of hitter, swatting only seven homers through the entire duration of his high school years, but he’s projected to develop into some gap-finding ability as he grows.
His knack for jaw-dropping plays at shortstop profiles him as a future everyday starter there, and his bat, while not as incredible as his glove, is another plus-tool that increases his stock. As he’s only a high schooler, development will take time, but time is exactly what the Cubs can currently afford.
There are only two aspects of Allen’s game that drag his potential down. The biggest reason that the 18-year-old won’t go early in the first round is that he is only 5’8″. His height does put him at a significant disadvantage, but, obviously, it hasn’t really stopped him before, and short people have excelled at the major league level (Jose Altuve is 5’6″).
The most important impact stemming from his less-than-ideal size is a lack of power. As I mentioned earlier, Allen won’t ever be a home run hitter, which is the primary reason he will fall late in the first round. This facet is especially hurtful to his stock as power’s value in baseball is currently on the upswing.
The Cubs have a string of three consecutive first round draft picks of college hitters, but took a college righty with their first pick last year (which came in the third round). Clearly, the circumstances surrounding their decision have changed, as they’re no longer trying to find players that they can rush to the MLB level, and are now simply restocking the farm.
Their love for hitters still remains a factor, as drafting pitchers can be especially risky, but, most likely, the front office will be taking the best player available to them when the 27th spot comes up.
This would best explain their fascination with Allen despite already having a defensive superstar in Addison Russell at short. At this point, the Cubs are only seeking talent, no matter the form that it comes in.
If you’re interested in learning more about this upcoming draft, or if you’re just really cool, check out our other draft profiles —