In June 2018, the Cubs invested a 20th-round pick in the College of Marin left-handed pitcher Chris Allen. In the 2018 campaign, Allen pitched as a professional in the Arizona League. I thank him for taking time out of his schedule to discuss what being a minor league player entails, after his daily workout.
TH: How was your workout?
CA: It was nice. I was hanging with Miguel Amaya and Matt Swarmer. Acting like I can do yoga?
TH: That’s a bit of the new wave of sports fitness.
CA: My body isn’t built for it yet, but that’s the goal. Slowly but surely.
TH: Who was your squad growing up?
CA: I was a Giants fan, and was able to enjoy the “even numbered seasons” run as a fan. I even made it to an LCS game against the Cardinals in 2014 when we won on a walkoff. Aside from the Giants, I was a big fan of Adrian Beltre. He always had fun out there.
TH: How does College of Marin acknowledge alumni? For instance, actor/comedian Robin Williams was a Marin student when he got started.
CA: They have a Wall of Fame in the gym that includes Williams, MLB player Jerry Goff, and others.
TH: While it has nothing to do with baseball, look into the circumstances behind Williams getting his big break with the role of “Mork from Ork”. He wasn’t supposed to get the role. He happened to be in the right place at the right time.
CA: I’ll do that.
TH: How did you “get on the radar” of scouts?
CA: Heading into my junior year, being drafted wasn’t even a consideration. I started working out with (Dodgers prospect) Marcus Chiu, Suddenly, workouts were a bit more serious than before. When I got back to school after that, I was in much better shape. After the first workout with him, I threw up.
At Marin, we don’t specifically have a home field. We practice and play where it ends up being convenient. We were at a joint practice with another school, and a Dodgers scout was tracking another pitcher. He was running the radar gun on me, and I was up to 87 or 88, and that was a high-point for me, then. Once the season started, I was getting a scout or two at each start. Half the teams in the league had sent a scout by season’s end.
TH: For players that aren’t getting the attention, if they go to a smaller school, will scouts find the quality?”
CA: I’d more phrase it, “find the projectability.” They’re looking for the ability to do the skills regularly. Their looking for poise, and confidence. If you can show that you belong, that’s quite a bit of it.
TH: Do you have any fun draft day stories?
CA: Running up to the draft, I wasn’t able to sleep. I had trouble sleeping for a few weeks. My representative and I were discussing “acceptable” signing numbers, as teams don’t necessarily want to overspend on third-day players.
The afternoon started to get a bit long and hectic, and I fell asleep on my couch at home for a few minutes. I checked my cell, and the Cubs area scout told me to call him right away. As the baseball draft is about “meeting the desired number,” the Cubs were happy to meet mine. Three offers had already been declined, because the other teams didn’t meet my number. Some of the players from Hawaii (Allen’s choice for 2018-19 if he didn’t sign) were getting drafted later than I’d expected. But, with the Cubs meeting my number, everything worked well.
TH: Regarding pro coaching versus college coaching, how are they similar or different?
CA: My college coach (Steve Berringer) was tremendous. Many college coaches are about getting you developed for a year or two. He was much more interested in developing us over a longer-term. It was a nice run-up to pro coaches, who are interested in you over the next twenty years.
A pro organization is about the complete person. Since chicken is currently considered a better health option than beef, chicken it is. Yoga, and mental skills. I had no idea they’d focus or care so much about the mental angle of things. It’s refreshing to be considered an entire person.
TH: Are you a better pitcher than you were in June?
CA: Definitely. Instead of trying to get the next inning out of me, it’s bout getting in two or three innings. Working on the off-speed stuff. Spotting the ball on the catcher’s mitt. If someone hits an extra-base hit, it’s alright. Perhaps he hit a good pitch, or it might be a learning experience.
TH: Thanks for taking some time for my readers, and enjoy Instructional Ball, and Pitchers’ Fielding Practice in Mesa.
CA: Thanks for the chance. It will be my first time there with the entire group. I’m sure I’ll learn quite a bit.
Thanks for reading. As always, I’m interested in what you would like me to discuss with up-and-coming Cubs prospects. I hope you enjoy these glimpses into their universe.