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Kolby Allard, LHP
2016 Level: A Rome
16 G, 16 GA
(combined rookie and class-A stats)
Kolby Allard was a 1st-round draft pick in 2015 (14th overall) out of San Clemente HS in California. Widely considered one of the top prep arms and a potential top-5 pick, Allard’s stock dipped in March 2015 when he suffered a stress reaction in his back. There was speculation that with his draft stock dropping Allard would honor his commitment to UCLA, but he agreed to join the organization for a slightly over-slot bonus. Allard pitched only 6 innings in his pro debut season (allowing 1 hit, 0 runs, and striking out 12 of the 20 batters he faced), but the Braves pulled the plug after back pain resurfaced. Allard had surgery after the season, and stayed in extended spring training to continue rehab when spring training broke in 2016.
Allard’s rehab went very well, and he was cleared to pitch before the short-season leagues started, so he was sent to Rome to start his season. Allard made three starts with Rome in June. The first two had poor results as he had to deal with both rust and higher level competition. His third start however would be a preview of things to come as he shut out Greensboro for 5 innings. Demoted back to Danville as the Appalachian League season started, Allard dominated in five starts, pitching to a 1.32 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 5 walks in 27.1 innings pitched. Allard returned to Rome on July 22 and had a 2.61 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 16 walks in 48.1 innings pitched to finish out the regular season. Like his fellow Rome starters, Allard was lights-out in the playoffs, not allowing a run in two starts while striking out 10 and walking 3 in 12 innings. After the season Allard was named the #4 prospect of the Appalachian League and the #5 prospect of the South Atlantic League by Baseball America.
Allard is 6’-1” and 180 pounds, and does not look like he’ll get appreciably bigger. He has a simple delivery out of a 3-quarters arm slot that he repeats well. His fastball sits in the low 90s, and he already exhibits good command with it, able to hit spots up, down, and to either side. He complements the fastball with a tight-spin, sharp-breaking 1-7 curveball that’s already a plus pitch. Allard also works in a change-up that he doesn’t have command of every night, but when he does is another potential strikeout pitch. Allard does a nice job of masking the change-up in his glove so that it looks like the fastball out of his delivery. He is confident in his abilities and in his pitches, and is poised on the mound.
In a system full of bright pitching prospects, Kolby Allard is one of the crown jewels and my pick for best in the system. With his back issues behind him (heh), Allard will likely advance to class A+ Florida to start 2017. If he maintains his command and develops his third pitch just a little more polish, Allard could be a front-of-the-rotation star for the Braves within a few seasons, and could make his major league debut as early as 2019.