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Nick Allen wins Olympic silver medal and top defensive award

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A’s prospect goes big on world stage

United States v Japan - Baseball Gold Medal Game - Olympics: Day 15 Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Many Oakland A’s fans have been excited about top prospect Nick Allen for years, but now the rest of the world has gotten a glimpse of our hopeful future shortstop.

The 22-year-old Allen played for Team USA during the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer, and he put on quite a show. By the end he’d won a silver medal along with the rest of his teammates, and he also picked up a piece of individual hardware when he was named Best Defensive Player for the Olympic tournament.

Allen’s journey with Team USA began in May, when he briefly stepped away from the Double-A Midland RockHounds to play for his country in an Olympic qualifying tournament. The squad successfully qualified for the Tokyo Games, and Allen was named to the Olympic team.

Team USA played six games in Tokyo, and Allen started at shortstop in each one. In addition to his award-winning glove, he also tied for second on the club in batting average and third in slugging percentage.

  • Allen, Olympics: 6-for-21 (.286), HR, 2 doubles, 1 BB, 5 Ks

In the opening game against Israel, Allen singled in the 3rd inning, stole second base, and scored for the first run of an eventual 8-1 victory. In the next game against Korea he homered in a 4-2 win.

After that they played against Japan, and the USA lost 7-6, but along the way Allen chipped in again. With the score tied in the 4th inning, he hit an RBI double off MLB star Masahiro Tanaka, giving the USA the lead and knocking Tanaka out of the game.

Team USA returned to the win column against the Dominican Republic, by a 3-1 score, but Allen was finally quiet at the plate with an 0-for-3 line. Next up was the Semifinal Game, against Korea, and he went hitless again but did walk and score a run amid a 7-2 triumph.

That put Allen and the USA in the Final Game against host Japan, and unfortunately they fell short of the gold medal in a 2-0 loss. But Allen did everything he could to carry them, notching three hits to account for half of the entire lineup’s total of six. He singled in the 5th and doubled in the 7th but was stranded both times, then singled again in the 9th and was later forced out at second base for the final out of the tournament.

Here’s the double in the 7th, which he lined up the middle slightly to his pull side.

And here’s the single in the 9th to keep the game alive. He was batting with two out and nobody on, so he represented the USA’s final hope and successfully brought the tying run to the plate. This time he poked a liner the other way down the RF line.

As for his defense, the highlight below is of him not quite making a catch, but covering this kind of ground on a popup will serve him well in the Coliseum’s vast foul territory.

You can click here to see the full schedule with all the box scores, play-by-play, and team stats.

While this was Allen’s first time on the USA Olympic team, he does have some previous national experience. He won gold medals in international play with the 15U team (in 2013) and again with the 18U team (in 2016).

With the Tokyo Games now complete, Allen will return to the A’s farm and continue working his way up toward the majors. He entered the season as the No. 3 prospect in Oakland’s system, and he’s only increased his stock since then, including a career-best batting line in his first taste of the upper-minors in Double-A.

  • Allen, AA: .319/.374/.471, 127 wRC+, 6 HR, 8 SB, 7.9% BB, 20.1% Ks

Of course, even with those strong numbers, his calling card is still his elite fielding. He was named by MLB Pipeline as the best defensive shortstop in the entire minor leagues each of the last two winters, and his glove is already considered MLB-ready.

In fact, he’s played so well this year that he might head straight to Triple-A upon his return, reports insider Martin Gallegos. But Melissa Lockard of The Athletic has her sights set even higher, suggesting the following:

“With Matt Chapman recently being asked to play shortstop in extra innings for the A’s at the major-league level, it’s not out of the question that Allen could join the A’s big-league roster at some point down the stretch. He’s proven when the pressure is high, his performance rises with it.”

Congrats to Allen on an Olympic medal and an individual tourney award!

Extra Olympic notes

Baseball was not in the Olympics in 2016 or 2012, so the last edition came in 2008. Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill, then A’s prospects, won bronze that year. The last time USA won gold was 2000 at Sydney, and that roster included catcher Marcus Jensen, who is now Oakland’s bullpen coach.