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Marlins pick Allison in first round
06/03/2003 7:16 PM ET
Marlins draft picks

MIAMI -- Maintaining the creed that you can never have enough pitching, the Marlins made dominating right-hander Jeff Allison the 16th overall pick in Tuesday's First-Year Player Draft.

An 18-year-old senior at Veterans Memorial High School in Peabody, Mass., Allison was viewed as the most overpowering pitcher in the draft. His team is in the state semifinals and Allison boasts an 8-0 record with a 0.00 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 55 innings.

The last time he allowed a run was last summer to Chinese-Taipei when Allison was the ace of the USA junior national team.

"He's got a big arm, and he throws very hard," said Jim Fleming, the Marlins vice president of player development and scouting. "If you look at his numbers, his numbers were cartoon numbers. He didn't give up a run."

Allison's fastball is consistently in the 93-95 mph range, but he said it topped at 98 mph this season.

Growing up in the shadows of the Red Sox, Allison said he is thrilled to go to the Marlins.

"I was actually more excited than people thought I'd be," Allison said. "The Marlins are a really, really good organization. I think in a couple of years, they will be a team really good to look at. If I make it to the Major Leagues, I think I will have an impact with this team. Right now, they have some young pitchers on the team, which is a good thing. They have come out of high school. I think it was a really good thing for them to take me."

When he was available, Allison was an overwhelming consensus selection. Baseball America ranked him as the fifth prospect overall and the No. 2 pitcher.

"He's a high school kid," Fleming said, "but a high school kid, because of his pitches and his ability to throw strikes with those pitches, should be able to move at a decent pace through our system."

Three of the Marlins current staff signed professional contracts out of high school -- Josh Beckett, Brad Penny and Dontrelle Willis.

"Obviously, there is a knock on high school pitching," Fleming said. "If you look at what is pitching on our staff, there are a lot of high school pitchers. There are more high school players now getting to the big leagues than before because there are more high schoolers signing.

"That trend on college pitching was based on years of scouting where most kids went to school. There are certain risks to every player, and there are a lot of risks on a high school right-hander. But this kid has got a lot of upside. He has command of his pitches, which is something you usually don't see with a high school pitcher. We feel he can go through our system pretty fast."

One knock on Allison, according to some reports, is he is cocky and is, at times, hard to coach.

"I don't think I'm cocky," Allison said. "I think I'm confident and competitive. I'm confident in myself."

His confidence is reflected in the high expectations he has of himself.

A reporter Tuesday informed Allison that Beckett predicted he would be an All-Star within three years after he was the second overall pick in 1999. Allison echoed similar projections.

"I also think I'll make the All-Star team in two or three years," he said. "I know what it takes to be a champion."

Fleming said the Marlins have no problems with his makeup.

"He's a very competitive guy, a baseball guy who wants to play," Fleming said. "We have all positives on his makeup."

The next step is signing Allison, who had a college commitment to the University of Arizona.

Allison expects the Marlins to begin negotiating contract terms in a few days. He is keeping college as an option.

Asked if he is leaning toward the pros or college, he said: "I'm not really sure yet. We'll see once we really get into things."

Allison was a standout on Team USA's junior national team that finished third at the World Junior Championship in Sherbrooke, Quebec, last summer. He struck out 17 in 14 innings and threw a complete-game, four-hitter against Venezuela.

"We put the board in order," Fleming said. "We weigh everything. He was the guy. At 16, he was the best player available at 16, without question. I don't know if he was unanimous in our room, but he was pretty close. Everybody liked this guy. He's a great fit."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.