HomeOther Philly SportsPhiladelphia Phillies sign ex-top pitching prospect to a one-year contract

Philadelphia Phillies sign ex-top pitching prospect to a one-year contract

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Originally selected by the Braves with the No. 14 overall pick back in 2015, Allard was long rated as one of the sport’s top pitching prospects. Back injuries hobbled him throughout the early stages of his career, however, and he’s yet to establish himself at the MLB level in parts of six seasons with the Braves and Rangers. Atlanta traded Allard to Texas in the 2019 swap that sent reliever Chris Martin to Atlanta, and the Rangers sent him back to the Braves following the 2022 season in exchange for righty Jake Odorizzi (plus $10M to cover the bulk of Odorizzi’s $12M salary).

In 2023, Allard opened the season on the 60-day injured list owing to a Grade 2 oblique strain suffered in camp. He returned over the summer but made only four appearances before inflammation in his shoulder led to him being shut back down and shelved for the remainder of the year. He was limited to just 12 1/3 innings overall, yielding nine runs on 16 hits and four walks with 13 strikeouts (6.57 ERA).

Allard has just one season with a sub-5.00 ERA under his belt — the 4.96 mark he recorded through nine starts (45 1/3 innings) during his first season as a Ranger. He’s made 38 MLB starts and another 31 relief appearances, accumulating a total of 245 innings but with an unsightly 6.10 ERA to show for it. Allard has missed bats at close to league-average levels in brief looks over the past two seasons, but he has a below-average 18.8% strikeout rate in his career and sits in the 90-91 mph range with his fastball. He’s regularly shown strong command, evidenced by a 7.7% walk rate in his time as a big leaguer.

While he hasn’t found sustained MLB success yet, Allard does have a nice track record in the upper minors. He’s pitched in parts of four Triple-A seasons, totaling 323 innings at that level, and recorded a solid 3.71 earned run average in that time. Along the way, he’s fanned 23.4% of his opponents against an 8.3% walk rate — all while working exclusively out of the starting rotation.

Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said earlier this month that he’d been engaged with several free agents in an effort to bolster his team’s rotation depth behind its top five starters: Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, Taijuan Walker and Cristopher Sanchez. Allard is one step toward doing so, and he’ll cost little more than the 40-man roster spot that the team has promised to him.

It’s certainly feasible that Allard could eventually join the big league club as a swingman or lefty reliever, but out-of-options journeyman Dylan Covey seems likely to hold that long relief job to begin the season. And, given that Dombrowski was speaking on record about pursuing exactly this type of rotation depth just a few weeks ago, it seems fair to expect that the initial plan for Allard is for him to open the year in the rotation in Triple-A Lehigh Valley. A spring injury to one of the current starters or perhaps a strong showing (and matching poor performance from Covey) could alter that trajectory, of course.

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