After an unwelcomed hiatus in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, minor league baseball is officially back after Opening Day took place last week. The minors look a bit different this season thanks to an offseason consolidation of the affiliate system, resulting in each MLB team having just four affiliates of minor league teams to develop players: AAA, AA, High-A or Low-A (rookie ball). Throughout the New York Mets’ season, Minor League Mondays will spotlight one prospect each week and update you on their progress towards the major league level.
All journeys aren’t created equal, and this is certainly the case for pitching prospect Matt Allan, who is the Mets’ top-rated minor league arm. Allan is done for the year after an elbow exam revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament, requiring Tommy John surgery that will also cost him part of 2022. This is an unfortunate development for the Mets, who are very excited about Allan’s potential after former GM Brodie Van Wagenen executed a very complex draft maneuver to land him in 2019.
That draft saw Van Wagenen target Allan, who was widely regarded as a first-round talent after he fell to the third round due to signability concerns. The Mets then proceeded to invest most of their bonus pool from the first ten rounds on Allan, convincing him to eschew a college commitment to join their farm system. The pandemic cost Allan a critical development year in 2020 but he did get to work at the Mets’ alternate site, training against older players, and also fared well in the team’s fall instructional league.
Scouts rave about Allan’s ability to throw three plus pitches, including a fastball that sits around 96 miles per hour and a curveball with a ton of spin. Allan’s changeup drew rave reviews at the team’s alternate site, according to MLB.com’s scouting report, with his combination of stuff and command leading many to believe that Allan is a projectable front-line starter.
The surgery was an unfortunate delay for Allan, who was likely ticketed for High-A Brooklyn before getting injured after spending spring training with the major league club. Allan will likely be back in the second half of 2022, where he should debut with Brooklyn with an innings limit in place.
2023 will likely be the big year for Allan, who should start at Brooklyn if all goes well and potentially end up at AA Binghamton in the second half if the organization resumes Sandy Alderson’s old strategy of promoting highly achieving prospects at midseason. This timetable would put Allan on track for a big league debut in 2024, potentially joining fellow righty J.T. Ginn as part of the next wave of Mets’ starting pitchers.
The injury does, unfortunately, highlight the severe lack of high-end pitching prospects in the Mets’ system. Allan is a key part of the long-term plan for the Mets’ rotation so a successful return from Tommy John surgery would be a key development next year.