Allen Brings the Power Back

First base has been a sore spot for the Arizona Diamondbacks organization for quite some time – especially in terms of power productions – and 2009 has been no different. The position has seen a number of players attempt to secure the full-time job but no one has been able to provide even league-average offense. The road to first base is littered with players such as Chad Tracy, Josh Whitesell, and Tony Clark.

The organization will now give rookie Brandon Allen a shot at the job. The big, sturdy prospect was acquired from the Chicago White Sox back on July 7. The American League club received reliever Tony Pena in return. Allen is actually the second first-base prospect that the club has received from Chicago in the past 24 months. The Diamondbacks dealt outfielder Carlos Quentin to the White Sox on Dec. 3, 2007 in exchange for Chris Carter. Carter spent only 11 days in the organization, though, before he was flipped to Oakland in the Dan Haren deal. Still with the Athletics organization, Carter is currently hitting .335/.434/.570 with 65 extra-base hits and 98 RBI in 481 double-A at-bats at the age of 22.

It’s a shame that the Diamondbacks organization was unable to hold on to Carter, but Allen represents another intriguing first-base prospect. The 23-year-old was originally selected out of a Texas high school in the fifth round of the 2004 amateur draft. It took about three seasons for him to get his feet underneath him. His career began to take off with a solid low-A ball season in 2007. Allen then followed that up with a monster year that saw him slam 29 homers between high-A and double-A.

This year, Allen began the season back in double-A. Although his power numbers were supressed a bit in Birmingham (His ISO dropped from .200+ to .162), the slugger hit for a higher average, he trimmed about 6% off his K rate (to 19.5%) and he continued to take a healthy number of walks. Once traded to the Arizona organization, Allen’s power returned and he slammed 12 homers in 142 triple-A at-bats (.324 ISO). He also maintained his improved batting average and plate rates. Although the left-handed hitter has struggled against southpaws in the past, he hit .317 against them in the minors this season and did not embarrass himself last year, either.

Allen is bound to have some ups and downs throughout the final weeks of the 2009 season, but he represents the best in-house option at the first-base position in 2010. With a little patience, he could become an above-average power source for the club. The power output would be a welcomed sight, as the club has only had two seasons in which its first basemen topped 20 home runs in its 12-year history: 1998, Travis Lee (22 homers) and 2005, Tony Clark (30) and Chad Tracy (27), although the latter also spent 51 games in the outfield.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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13 years ago

Nice article, but the end part is wrong. The D-Backs have had three such seasons. Forgot Tony Clark’s 30 bombs in 2005 (27 as the starting first baseman).