Breaking news: Nick Allen is still the best defensive shortstop in the minor leagues.
MLB Pipeline released its annual All-Defense Team of minor league prospects, and the Oakland A’s top young shortstop got the nod at his position for the third straight year. Allen was also named as the first-team shortstop in 2020 and 2021.
It’s no surprise to see the 23-year-old maintain his dominance in these national rankings. He continued to play well last season, climbing the ladder up to Double-A and then Triple-A, and along the way he took a break to join Team USA for the Summer Olympic Games and earned a silver medal and the tournament’s Best Defensive Player award.
Pipeline offered the following quick writeup in this year’s edition of the All-Defense Team, where Allen is the only current three-peater in the first-team lineup:
Though Allen is just 5-foot-8 and 166 pounds, he’s so dynamic at shortstop that he commanded an over-slot $2 million bonus as a third-round choice from a California high school in 2017. He not only makes spectacular plays thanks to his smooth actions, exceptional range, quick hands and strong arm, but he’s also a reliable defender who rarely boots a routine grounder.
There’s nothing left to prove with his glove, so the only questions remaining are how soon Allen can bring that leather to the majors and how much he’ll contribute on offense. His bat has mostly been productive during his rise up the minors, and despite a brief hiccup in his Triple-A debut last year he rebounded to finish the campaign strong. Even if he doesn’t hit much in MLB he could still be a valuable everyday player, and if he pans out at the plate as a speedy sparkplug with a high batting average then he could be a star.
Allen is already on the 40-man roster, and there’s not much blocking him in Oakland except the warm smile of Elvis Andrus, so it’s reasonable to hope for his arrival sometime in 2022. And perhaps sooner than later, especially if he comes out hot this spring and/or in the first month of the minor league season.