Indians outfield prospect Greg Allen has turned plenty of heads with his blazing speed on the base paths, but earlier this week, he was recognized for an underappreciated element of his game. On Monday, he was announced as one of just nine recipients of the 2016 Rawlings Gold Glove Award® for defensive excellence in the field.
Allen worked at two levels in the Indians system in his third season with the club after being selected in the sixth round of the 2014 draft out of San Diego State University. He started the season at High-A Lynchburg, appearing in 92 games before a promotion on July 25 to Double-A Akron.
He worked exclusively this season as a center fielder for the Hillcats and RubberDucks and put together strong numbers in the field. In 795 1/3 innings during his time in the Carolina League, he made just a pair of errors on 239 total chances for a .992 fielding percentage. In addition to the numbers, he was a sight to see running around the outfield, often making the impossible plays possible.
During his 36-game stint with Akron, he appeared in 321 2/3 innings in the field and did not commit an error. He was perfect in 93 chances, adding six more assists to his season total. He had a range factor of 2.58 at both stops this season, above his career average coming into the year.
His combined numbers for the season resulted in a .994 fielding percentage for the year with 15 assists. Allen also was involved in a pair of double plays at each level.
The defensive prowess is no huge surprise from Allen, who committed just one error in 116 chances (.991 fielding percentage) while splitting time in center and right field with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in 2014 and four errors in 291 chances (.986) with Lake County and Lynchburg in 2015. He had seven assists in his first season in the organization and improved to nine the next year.
While his speed and defensive work have been strong points of his game throughout his three years professionally in the Indians’ organization, Allen’s bat also came on strong this season, as he hit a combined .295 with a .416 on-base percentage in 129 games between Lynchburg and Akron. His 93 runs scored with the Hillcats led all Carolina League players for the season and his on-base percentage (.424) and stolen base total (38) were both second in the league, despite his promotion to the Double-A level during the final week of July.
The Gold Glove Award® is not the first big honor granted to Allen this season. He became a midseason All-Star for the second time in his career while with Lynchburg and he was selected as one of the league’s postseason All-Stars after the season.
The popular equipment maker Rawlings reinstated the Gold Glove Award® at the minor league level in 2011 after previously naming a minor league All-Star fielding team during the 1960s. Players were considered across the full-season minor league levels. Each of the nine players to be honored this year will receive a Rawlings Gold Glove Award® during the upcoming 2017 baseball season.
Allen was the only member of the Indians organization to be selected this season. He became the first Tribe prospect to win the award since its return.
The other eight players joining Allen as award winners this year included first baseman Matt Skole (Triple-A for Washington), second baseman Joey DeMichele (Double-A for the Chicago White Sox), shortstop Zach Vincej (Double-A for Cincinnati), third baseman Carlos Rivero (Triple-A for Arizona), left fielder Charcer Burks (High-A for the Chicago Cubs), right fielder Mike Gerber (High-A and Double-A for Detroit), catcher Jose Trevino (High-A for Texas), and pitcher James Naile (top four levels for Oakland). DeMichele also won the award last season at Double-A for Chicago’s Birmingham affiliate.
Other notable award winners since 2011 include current Miami outfielder Marcell Ozuna (2012), Arizona shortstop Nick Ahmed (2013), St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk (2013), and Milwaukee rookie Orlando Arcia (2015)
“Congratulations to the nine outstanding Minor League Baseball players who deservedly won the 2016 Rawlings Gold Glove Award®,” said Rawlings executive vice president of marketing Mike Thompson in a statement. “Minor League Baseball is and will always continue to be a great partner of Rawlings, and we knew the Rawlings Gold Glove Award® would be a popular goal for many young players when we rekindled the Minor League award platform back in 2011.”
Photo: Lee Luther Jr./The News and Advance