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Know Your Orioles 40-man: Logan Allen

If a rebuilding team like the Orioles can swipe a former top 100 prospect they think has potential, they’ll do it.

Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels
Lefty Logan Allen was once a top 100 prospect. His MLB performance did not match, so he found his way to the Orioles.
Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Over the offseason, Camden Chat published an article about each member of the Orioles 40-man roster. During the 2022 season, we will update on new arrivals after they make it to the roster.

NOTE: The Orioles designated Logan Allen for assignment on 5/17/22. He cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Triple-A Norfolk. Allen is no longer on the 40-man roster.

How he arrived: Waiver claim from Cleveland Guardians 5/5/22 following DFA by Cleveland on 5/1

Who left: Kelvin Gutiérrez DFA on 5/2

Having players who are recognized as top 100 prospects in MLB is fun, especially when you are a fan of a bad team like the Orioles and the future is the only thing that matters. It is always worth tempering the excitement by remembering that the minor league landscape, and fringes of MLB rosters, are littered with former top prospects who never met the hype. One of these once-prospects arrived on the O’s 40-man roster on Thursday by waiver claim: Left-handed pitcher Logan Allen, recently of the Cleveland Guardians.

Allen was originally drafted in the eighth round of the 2015 draft by the Red Sox, where he signed for an overslot bonus of $725,000. Within months of being drafted, Boston shipped Allen along with three other players to the Padres for Craig Kimbrel. By 2019, Allen had worked his way up to the minors and built some back end of the top 100 list pedigree. San Diego sent him to Cleveland in a three-team trade at that year’s trade deadline, with Allen having already pitched in eight games.

At FanGraphs, Allen was in the 50 FV (average MLB player) tier of prospects, checking in at #94 on the list. Orioles prospects in that tier at that time were Yusniel Díaz, D.L. Hall, and Ryan Mountcastle. Another such player was now-Orioles reliever Cionel Pérez, who like Allen arrived here by waiver claim. FG wrote this about Allen at the time:

(Allen’s) fast-paced delivery is hard for hitters with a big leg kick to properly time the first time through the order, and once they’ve gotten a feel for his fastball, Allen pulls the string on his sinking, plus changeup. His strike-throwing has improved from slightly below-average to slightly above over the last 18 months or so, and Allen now comfortably projects as a No. 4 starter.

One can deduce solely from the fact that Allen was dumped onto waivers, to be claimed by the 2022 Orioles, that he did not hit that No. 4 starter projection, or anything close to it. The 24-year-old lefty has now pitched in parts of four big league seasons, totaling 94.2 innings with a 5.80 ERA. The O’s have had players of this ilk pass through regularly over the last few years, and every time when I look up his career stats, my response is, “Ah, yes. He’ll fit right in.”

As he climbed the minors, Allen had people believing in his potential as a starter because he had a track record of success at multiple levels. When he was in his age 21 season, he split the year between Double-A and Triple-A, rolling to a 2.54 ERA in 25 games. He struck about a batter per inning and had a K:BB ratio of a bit more than 3.

If a guy that young does that at those levels, it’s always worth taking notice. The Orioles system does not have any age 21 pitchers at Double-A or Triple-A. They only have one such player at High-A. This is by design in a sense, since Mike Elias has not drafted the kind of college pitchers who’d swiftly climb to Double-A, nor high school pitchers who might pitch their way there in three years.

Another way to illustrate how young Allen still is: When he throws his first pitch for the Orioles, he will become the youngest player to throw a pitch for the team so far this season. The guy had a lot of potential and he’s still young enough to believe he might still be able to unlock the potential, or at least enough of it to be a useful big league player.

Did any of this potential carry along up to MLB? Again, you know the answer. If it did, he wouldn’t be an Oriole now. Allen’s 2019 debut, before he was traded a second time, was already unenviable. The strikeout rate sank and the walk rate climbed over his first eight games with the Padres, though this did not deter Cleveland from wanting him. In 2020, he spent most of the season cooling his heels at Cleveland’s alternate training site, with no Triple-A baseball due to the pandemic.

Only last year did the now-Guardians really try to unleash Allen from the beginning of the season. They had him in the starting rotation out of the gate and, well, that didn’t go great either. A 9.19 ERA at the end of April got him banished to the minors, mostly only making spot starts the rest of the way. Other pitchers passed him on the organizational ladder. This year, he was merely the extra guy in the bullpen while rosters were expanded for April, at which time Cleveland DFA’d him and put him up for grabs.

Asked about the newest Orioles waiver claim before Thursday’s game, manager Brandon Hyde said, “I think we’re just going to take a look at a guy with a high ceiling and an exceptional arm.” What role the team might try to use him in is not immediately clear. With Allen not having been stretched out as a starter so far this season, it would be surprising to see him in the rotation.

Allen is out of minor league options, which is why Cleveland had to designate him for assignment when they trimmed him from the active roster. The Orioles, too, would have to keep Allen with the major league team or else expose him to waivers. It seems like this is more than just a “claim him and dump him again tomorrow” claim, so they’ll have to drop someone from the active roster when Allen arrives with the team, probably later today. Maybe he’ll stick around for long enough to be remembered.

Next: We’re all caught up, for now.