NILES - Mahoning Valley Scrappers' speedster Greg Allen has caught the eyes of many visitors of Eastwood Field since his first game back in June.
After his performance Saturday night, he is now the New York-Penn League leader in stolen bases.
Allen stole three bases in the Scrappers' 5-1 victory over the Williamsport Crosscutters Saturday night, bringing his total up to 22 in 49 games. Allen was drafted in the sixth round in this year's draft out of San Diego State University. He led the Aztecs in steals in 2011, 2012, and 2013 and led the Mountain West Conference the last two with 25 swipes. This year with the Scrappers, Allen has 26 stolen base attempts and has been caught only four times.
He said he hasn't followed the statistic very closely throughout the season, and with the season wrapping up, obtaining the accolade is now on his radar. But he is still focused on doing what he can for the team above all else.
"(I haven't followed it) much," Allen said. "I'm just trying to do my job to get on base and when the opportunities (to steal bases) come up, I take them.
"At this point I'm just trying to be productive anyway I can. If stolen bases helps us score runs, then (I'll definitely be going for the league lead)."
Apart from being a dominating base stealer, Allen also is one of the teams' best hitters, batting .267 - 30 points higher than the team's overall average. He also leads the team with 35 runs. He's proven to be a defensive asset as well, covering massive amounts of ground in the outfield and making only one error on the year.
"Anybody that can run like that is going to change the game, that's for sure," Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak said. "It's part of his game and he's got to use it. Bunting, running, and he hits the ball pretty well too. He's got the green light...Most of these guys, we just let them play."
When it comes to Allen stealing bases, Kubiak said he's got the green light, but there is still a lot of room for him to improve.
"I didn't particularly like when he stole that last time," said Kubiak, referring to when Allen stole second with a runner on third, two outs and an early count on the team's best hitter, Bradley Zimmer. "Zimmer is up at that point and he's got that whole right side open. I wanted him to wait until the count got a little later, not running that early because that closes the hole up on that side."
Zimmer ultimately drove in the two runs with a single into right field.
This season is the first time many of the Scrappers have played professional baseball. For the first time in their lives, they are getting paid to play the game they love. The ultimate goal being for all players in the minor leagues is to move up through the levels, eventually making it the major leagues. So with the Scrappers out of the playoff hunt, and the players finally getting acclimated to the professional level, it would be understandable for them to start treating the game like a job and losing focus on the season at hand. However, Allen knows every game matters in his young career and that he can't lose his focus for even one day.
"At this point, there's so much to learn," Allen said. "I've still got a ways to go from where I want to be, so I definitely can't waste any days thinking that way. I'm just trying to finish strong and help us win.
"(I'm working to have) productive ABs, quality ABs (and) make sure I stay disciplined at the plate."
The Scrappers' victory last night was thanks in large part to the play of MLB.com's fourth ranked Cleveland Indians prospect Bradley Zimmer, who went 2 for 3 with three RBIs, two runs scored and a home run. He also had a stellar game defensively as the center fielder ran down multiple balls deep in the gaps and back toward the wall. Zimmer now has 15 extra base hits (11 doubles, one triple and three home runs), 23 RBIs and a team leading .313 batting average in 35 games.
The Scrappers conclude their single series homestand against Williamsport tonight at 5:05.