Druley: Geneva product shows Diamondbacks his ‘reliable arm’
Brad Allen wants no more of this nondescript stuff.
His crowning achievement in baseball so far is anything but.
A Geneva product in the Arizona Diamondbacks system by way of independent ball, Allen, a 24-year-old right-hander, pitched a no-hitter for Class-A South Bend of the Midwest League on Saturday night.
He retired the final 25 West Michigan batters he faced, gave the ball from his final out to his dad, Brian, and commenced taking congratulatory calls and texts from D’backs executives.
“You always want to show the organization that you’re a reliable arm, and you always want to make a name for yourself,” Allen said. “And obviously, things like throwing a no-hitter will help build that.”
There’s no “i” in team, but there is one in impress, the objective that’s consumed Allen since he signed with Arizona in December.
Undrafted out of Arkansas State in 2011, Allen joined Rockford of the independent Frontier League shortly after college. He returned to the team for spring training in 2012 but was cut, and remained out of baseball until signing with Florence (Ky.) of the Frontier League last August.
He compiled a 1.07 ERA down the stretch and helped the Freedom into the playoffs, which was enough to earn an invite to D’backs spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“My whole thing was how am I going to get picked up? My whole thing was every pitch you make’s got to be quality,” Allen said. “I don’t throw 95, 98, so I’m not going to get picked up on that matter.
“I had to be a great pitcher, to show that I could do that consistently. That was my big thing was how am I going to get seen? How am I going to get found? There’s a lot of good players out in Frontier that would die for my chance. That’s why I don’t take it for granted.”
Allen allowed only one baserunner Saturday, a two-out walk of Dean Green in the first inning. West Michigan left fielder Jeff Holm, a St. Charles North alumnus Allen said he’s “never really talked to ... exclusively” went 0 for 3 with two of his team’s nine strikeouts.
Allen hovered between 90 and 93 mph with his fastball while locating his slider, curve and change-up in the 97-pitch outing. West Michigan’s Adolfo Reina provided the requisite oh-so-close moment when he led off the ninth with a drive down the left-field line that barely landed foul.
Reina later struck out before Allen made quick work of the final two hitters. Elation ensued.
“Even when I got back to the hotel, I still couldn’t sleep,” Allen said. “I finally got some rest [Sunday], which is nice.”
Arizona promoted Allen to the Midwest League in May, just as South Bend was in the middle of a strong run to the Eastern Division’s first-half title. Allen, 7-6 with a 4.67 ERA overall, figures to make at least three regular-season starts before the postseason opens Sept. 4.
Geneva coach Matt Hahn texted Allen a couple of days before the no-hitter to check up on the season. Allen has remained in touch with his former program through the years, and spoke with the Vikings during a preseason workout shortly before he left for spring training.
“It’s just a cool experience for me to go back there knowing that that’s what I was doing in high school, too, is working the same way they are,” Allen said.
There might have been a hiccup last summer, but Allen still is going to the ballpark six years later.
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.