The 2014 season was a rather interesting one for James Allen. He began the year in the Bakersfield rotation and struggled from the beginning before moving into the bullpen where his peripherals were much improved but his ERA remained high. Today we are going to look at how his season changed from a scouting perspective when he made the transition to the bullpen and what it could mean for his future. This is the scouting report that will be in the 2015 Prospect Guide.
On the surface the season numbers for James Allen look brutal. He posted a 6.23 ERA in 86.2 innings, gave up 16 home runs with 22 walks and 64 strikeouts. If we dig deeper though we can see that he struggled mightily as a starter and was much better as a reliever after moving to the bullpen in late May. As a starter he had 17 walks and 23 strikeouts in 49.0 innings. As a reliever he threw 37.2 innings with just five walks and struck out 41 batters. In both roles he gave up a lot of hits though. Out of the bullpen he saw his velocity move up from the 88-91 range into the 92-94 range. That also helped his average slider play up some as it too picked up a bit of velocity. Despite the vastly improved walk and strikeout rates as a reliever, Allen only showed average control and below-average command. The bullpen is where his future lies and just how much slider and control improve will determine whether he’s a fringe bullpen arm or a reliable piece of a big league bullpen.