When will then be now for Nick Allen?

No one would suspect that Nick Allen has been one of the more impressive prospects for the Oakland A’s thus far in spring training. His offensive numbers are not much to look at, as he had just four hits in 24 plate appearances entering Saturday’s action. That type of production typically leads to a ticket back to the minors.

But Allen is far more than his bat. There had been questions about his hit tool since he was drafted, but his glove was never a concern. It was felt that he was close to major league ready defensively when he was drafted and he has shown why during spring training, making difficult plays at short seem routine.

Nick Allen biding his time for Oakland A’s

It seemed probable that Allen would be a part of the A’s Opening Day roster at the beginning of February. Incumbent shortstop Marcus Semien had signed in Toronto, and there really was not another option. Then the A’s traded for Elvis Andrus, ending that speculation.

Frankly, Allen still needs time in the minors. He spent 72 games in the California League in 2019 before injury ended his season. While he showed progress with the bat, producing a .292/.363/.434 batting line with 22 doubles in his 328 plate appearances, it would have made sense for the A’s to find a stopgap at short and send Allen to Triple-A to start the year.

That appears likely to be the case now. Having Andrus on board allows the A’s to keep from rushing Allen to the majors. While his defense is ready now, the bat is just not there. He can continue to develop at the highest level of the minors without having pressure placed upon him to be ready at a faster rate.

Should Allen display the progress he showed in 2019, it may not take long for him to head to the majors. Second base remains a large question mark, and could have a solution with Andrus sliding across the bag to take over. But Allen will need to show that he can hit, or at least do enough with the bat to keep his glove in the lineup.

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Nick Allen could be in the majors by midseason. It is a question of whether or not he will show enough progress with the bat to make his debut.