Greg Allen isn’t flashy. If you weren’t paying attention, you may have missed his name last season. The outfielder played under the radar, his impressive performances highly touted but not widely talked about until later in the season. Allen quickly became one of the strongest members of the Indians minor leagues that most people hadn’t heard of. However, all that seems to be changing.
In a style reminiscent of – dare I say it – Michael Brantley, Allen is a smooth outfielder would makes challenging plays look routine. He does not flaunt his successes, instead taking them in stride. He’s unassuming, but fast, strong, and an asset to the organization.
Although it’s easy to compare Allen to Brantley, there’s another player whom Allen can attribute much of his success – the late Tony Gwynn. Prior to joining the Indians organization, Allen was a student and athlete at San Diego State University, playing for Gwynn in his last years.
“It was impactful,” Allen said last season of having the opportunity to play for and know Gwynn throughout his time at San Diego State. “I’m glad I got to be part of it through those years, even with the passing of Coach Gwynn, and just to be with him prior to that – even to be with him during those last few days, and to soak up everything I could from him.”
“Obviously, [Coach Gwynn] was a wonderful player, but he was even better off the field,” Allen said. “His character and his morals really spoke for themselves. Just to be around him and the program on a daily basis was incredible.”
While it’s clear that Allen learned more than just on-the-field skills from Gwynn, the baseball skills he took from Mr. Padre are evident. Allen hit .273 in Lake County last season and earned a promotion to the Lynchburg Hillcats. In his three High-A games, Allen had two hits and one double and stole three bases.
His speed is one of his biggest assets on the base path. He stole 43 bases in Lake County in 2015 and scored 83 runs. With runners in scoring position, Allen hit .333 and had a .500 average during late, close games. His ability to perform under pressure is certainly a welcome addition to the Indians organization, as getting timely hits has been something the squad has struggled with in the recent past.
Allen had nine assists in the outfield last season with only four errors, a testament to his abilities despite it being only his second year of professional ball.
2015 was certainly a breakout year for Allen, who gave the appearance that his performance wasn’t a fluke. Watching him continue to excel at higher levels will be the true test of Allen’s abilities. However, if he continues to take Gwynn’s lessons to heart, there’s a strong chance that Indians fans will have a truly great player to watch in the coming years.
“The biggest lesson I learned from Coach Gwynn is to slow the game down,” Allen said. “I think so much of baseball is about what goes on in your head, your approach, your confidence. He taught me that it’s important just to be able to slow the game down in big spots, be able to relax and breathe, and put your best effort out there.”
Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN Photographer