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Huntington impressed by Allie's power

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In his first visit to Appalachian Power Park four years ago, Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington addressed a press conference to announce the West Virginia Power as the Pirates' newest farm club.

Until Friday night, he hadn't been back to the Charleston ballpark and regrets the lengthy hiatus.

"I'm embarrassed to admit it,'' Huntington said Sunday afternoon at APP.

Though the Lexington Legends scored six first-inning runs and routed the Power 12-5, Huntington seemed to enjoy the sights, including Stetson Allie's continuing ability to hit with authority to all fields, an attribute that always pleases the baseball hierarchy and is vital to player development.

Allie, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound first baseman, pulled a home run to left on Saturday and stroked an opposite-field blast onto Morris Street beyond right center on Sunday.

In addition, Allie slapped a single to right and launched a double into the left-field corner on Sunday, boosting his average to .314 and his RBI and home run totals to 32 and 10, respectively.

Allie's all-fields approach bodes well, especially for a guy who started his pro career as a pitcher and is playing his first season as a position player.

"An impressive skill in any hitter, let alone a young hitter, is the ability to drive the ball to the opposite-field gap and especially to hit a home run,'' said Huntington. "To hit a home run to the opposite field, it has to be a good swing. The key to a good hitter is the ability to use the middle of the field with authority. Most good hitters stay through the middle of the diamond and try to hit the ball gap to gap.''

The 22-year-old Allie knows what it takes to succeed.

"When I start swinging at pitches inside is when I start struggling,'' he said. "When I swing middle, middle-away is when I'm at my best.''

It's an ongoing process, said Huntington.

"He really began to work on it in the last Instructional League,'' said the general manager. "He worked on it on his own in the last off-season, and it's really paying dividends.''

Allie's No. 1 shortcoming at the moment, it seems, is strikeouts - an average of one for every three at-bats.

"In the past couple weeks,'' said Allie, "I've been punching out a lot. I just think I've been trying to do too much. When I get back to my approach, I think I'll be all right.''

The Legends, a Royals affiliate this season after a long tenure with the Astros, entered the game as the South Atlantic League's least offensive team but bunched a single, double and a triple, as well as two walks and a hit batsman, to score six times in the first inning amid a light shower that arrived shortly after the first pitch and abated after half an inning.

The Legends, in fact, batted for 25 minutes in the first inning, forcing their starter, Bryan Brickhouse, to wait impatiently in the bullpen.  

"You get anxious,'' said Brickhouse, a former high school teammate of Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon. "You want to get in the game and get it started. Plus having to keep warming up over and over again kind of gets exhausting. But I'm glad we put up six runs and got ahead. It made my job a lot easier so I could relax out there.''

The Power scored three in the second, highlighted by Max Moroff's two-run double, but the Legends broke the game open with four in the sixth.

POWER POINTS:  The Power will open a three-game series at Kannapolis today and return to APP to begin a seven-game home stand on Thursday. ... The Power entered Sunday's play with an average attendance of 1,863, which ranked 13th in the 14-team SAL. Greensboro leads with a 5,405 average. ... Huntington says his visit to Charleston involves more than just checking the team's top players. "I try to connect with the staff and interact with the players some and observe the individual development points that we're working on with each guy,'' he said. "And what I don't want to do is run down [to Charleston] and just catch a prospect. I want to see the whole environment. I want to see the whole picture.''   ... Allie says the Power players have blended well. "The team chemistry is great,'' he said. "I've been blessed to be here with these guys. It's been fun.''

Reach Mike Whiteford at mikewhiteford@wvgazette.com.


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