San Diego Padres’ catching prospect Austin Allen has worked very hard on his defense. The left-handed hitter is beginning to hone his craft and reach his potential as a baseball player.
It is no secret that the San Diego Padres have catching depth.
Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia provide the team with two young catchers that complement one another well. A knee injury earlier this month sidelined Mejia and he was sent to the injured list by the Padres. Normally that would be an issue, but the San Diego Padres had Austin Allen sitting in El Paso waiting for the call, and the young, backstop was ready for action.
The left-handed hitting catcher was putting up a .887 OPS in El Paso at the time of his first major league promotion. His offense has never been a problem, but the 25-year-old was gaining a reputation as a subpar defender. He took that to heart and worked very hard to improve his craft. “The Padres’ front office gave me a plan of what they needed to see from me of what I needed to improve on. I went into the offseason and absolutely crushed it. I got bullpens in and machine work in every day. That is what they asked me to do. Right now it is paying off. My receiving numbers are the best that they have ever been,” Allen said proudly. He is right. His metrics are up across the board on defense, and that is a great sign to see from Allen.
Though he just made his major league debut, the catcher is comfortable in his environment. Perhaps that is his St. Louis upbringing where he was a big fan of the team. He mentioned the 2011 team as his favorite Cardinals’ team to root for. As he described his emotions of being in the big leagues, you could see the sense of accomplishment on his face. ‘There is not really any way to describe it. I’m happy and proud that I have gotten here. Honestly, I am not overwhelmed by anything. Its baseball at the end of the day,” Allen tells EVT. He recognizes the stage, but also realizes that it is just a game in the end — something he has done his whole life.
Austin Hedges has the reputation of being a great teammate. He has taken the young catcher under his wing, and Allen wanted me to make sure that everyone knew that. “Kudos to him for this. He has gone out of his way to make me feel welcomed. He has walked me through the scouting reports. He talks to me in between innings,” Allen said. He went on to talk about the intangibles Hedges brings to the team. “The little things. He goes out of his way to do the little things in order to make sure the Padres win. He helps me out anyway that he can. I’m not the only one.”
Cal Quantrill made a recent start with Allen behind the plate. The two have familiarity as both spent time in the minors with each other in the last few seasons. In speaking about the start, Allen took ownership of Quantrill’s early struggles. “Early on, we both weren’t executing the fastball. We weren’t making the adjustment for him to execute that. If you take away that first inning, he was lights out. We made a few mistakes, and it hurt us. Apart from that, he did a real, ly good job. He is only going to improve,” Allen said. There is a lot to like about Quantrill’s growth as a pitcher and Allen assures me that the steps he is taking are legitimate.
The left-handed hitting catcher has a very simple approach at the plate. He is known as a plus hitter and should have no problem being an offensive threat at the major league level. “I try to go up there and put together a quality at-bat. Whether it is a walk or a hit. I am trying to do damage every time I go up there,” Allen explains. He will do whatever it takes for the team. He even mentioned that he would lay down a bunt in the right situation as teams have been shifting on his since the 2017 season.
Make no mistake about it. Austin Hedges has had a big influence on Allen. The rookie catcher is focused on getting better on catching. “The defensive side of the ball is what is most important to me right now. I can go out there and hit, but if I am not catching a good game, then I am not really valuable,” Allen admits. He wants to be known a plus receiver and has worked very hard on his craft. He works every day on it. “I need to keep tightening up the little things. Blocking and receiving. I need to keep putting in the work every single day,” Allen said. The young catcher is a hard-worker and a plus left-handed hitter. He should have no issues progressing in the game with the positive attitude he brings to the ballpark each day.