Draft holds promise for Allen, Raleigh

Draft holds promise for Allen, Raleigh

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Draft holds promise for Allen, Raleigh

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Fletcher's Logan Allen signed to play college baseball for South Carolina in November.

Fletcher’s Logan Allen signed to play college baseball for South Carolina in November.

Blink and the pitch has already been called a strike.

Logan Allen possesses that kind of velocity. Especially when the 6-foot-3, 208-pound senior from Fletcher rears back and slings his fastball at its peak speed of 95 mph.

The Major League Baseball draft begins Monday.

All indications are that Allen will be Western North Carolina’s first high school player taken over the course of three days. He’s hopeful that it might even be Monday when Round 1 and 2 are picked.

“I definitely don’t know what to expect with the draft,” Allen said.

“We’ve met with almost every team and we’re hearing a lot of things. A lot of good things. We’ll see how it goes.”

It’s all a crapshoot.

But Baseball America has ranked Allen (No. 128) and Smoky Mountain catcher Cal Raleigh (No. 199) among the top-200 prospects for the draft. The signing bonuses for players selected in those two spots a year ago were, respectively, $700,000 for Minnesota high school player Sam Hentges and $175,000 for St. Louis University’s Sam Norwood.

Only five WNC baseball players have signed directly out of high school with MLB teams since 2000. And in every case, the deal was for $500,000 or more.

Former Roberson standout Braxton Davidson agreed to a $1.7 million deal with the Atlanta Braves as the 32nd overall selection in 2014.

Allen is a left-hander who has played his past two years of high school ball for the IMG Academy out of Bradenton, Fla. Additionally, he was pitched the Virginia-based Evoshield Canes organization to five showcase national championships.

Allen was 9-0 for IMG (20-5) this spring with a 0.87 earned-run average and 73 strikeouts in 48.1 innings pitched. He only gave up 16 hits and won the Avengers’ Cy Young (most outstanding pitcher) award.

Allen’s coach was former MLB player Chris Sabo.

“I’ve improved so much at IMG and this past year has been huge for my development,” Allen said.

“Looking back on it, it was tough to leave home. But it was definitely the right decision for me and my future.”

Allen is mum on what it would take, financially-speaking, for him to give up the baseball scholarship to the University of South Carolina that he signed for in November.

Smoky Mountain senior Cal Raleigh.

Smoky Mountain senior Cal Raleigh.

Raleigh is the same way. But his relationship with Clemson was muddied on Thursday. The Tigers fired longtime coach Jack Leggett, who not only recruited Raleigh but is a family friend.

Leggett is a former Western Carolina University coach like Raleigh’s father, Todd.

“Playing professional baseball is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 2 years old,” Raleigh said.

“Before (Leggett) got fired, we had told the scouts what our expectations were (for a signing bonus). We’ve all been a little bombarded by this. Now we’re looking at the situation as a family and deciding what to do next.”

Raleigh was recently named the WNC Athletic Conference Player of the Year. He batted a team-high .459 with 23 RBIs, 20 stolen bases, 10 home runs and five doubles for the WNCAC champion Mustangs (17-6).

Raleigh participated in last summer’s Under Armour All-American game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field and is currently playing for the Haywood County American Legion Post 47 team.

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