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San Clemente's Allard back on track after lost season
Kolby Allard’s windup didn’t deliver many discernible warning signs early in San Clemente’s baseball season.
The senior, labeled by some as the best prep pitcher in the country, was slightly erratic by his own standards, but the southpaw could still bring it.
“We didn’t think anything of it, because, at the time, the velocity was still there,” said Tritons coach Dave Gellatly, recalling Allard’s struggles in the early weeks of the season. “It was just his command of his curveball and his fastball. He was getting behind a lot of hitters. … We thought he was just working through some kinks.”
But following a session in the bullpen, Allard experienced a jarring twinge in his back while sitting in his car. The pain progressively got worse, and on March 20, Allard was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his lower back.
Allard was told he needed to rest for 6-8 weeks, which meant his high school season was over.
“When it turned out to be a stress reaction, we were like, ‘OK, we can all breathe easy now.’ It’s nothing major,” Gellatly said.
More than two months have passed, the Tritons’ season has ended - they reached the CIF-SS Division 2 semifinals - and Allard is back on the field, doing limited workouts and trying to get back to full health.
A lot of major league teams are interested in how those workouts are going.
The Major League Draft starts Monday, and Allard is still widely seen as a first-round pick, although that’s not the lock it was a few months ago.
The back injury, according to various reports, has scared off some teams, while others still see a lot of potential - his lively fastball that sits between 92-94 mph and can touch 96, a curveball that is arguably the best of any prep hurler in the country, and an above-average changeup.
Gellatly has been keeping tabs on Allard’s recent workouts.
“He has 100-percent clearance,” he said of the 6-foot, 170-pound UCLA signee. “Right now he’s just throwing (on) flat ground, just trying to get back into 100-percent throwing shape. He’s going to take it slow for obvious reasons.”
In pre-draft rankings and mock selections, Allard has been tabbed as high as the sixth overall pick and as low as a compensation pick between the first and second rounds.
Gellatly doesn’t see his ace being passed up in the first round.
“In all my years as a coach, you see certain guys that you just know, if they don’t get injured and stay the course, they’re going to be in the big leagues,” Gellatly said. “Kolby is one of those guys you see and say, this is a future big leaguer. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he has the ability to do it. And he’s got the mindset to do it. Hopefully in a few years that will all come true.”
Allard gained a lot of attention after posting a 6-2 record with a 1.32 ERA as a junior, striking out 98 in just 622/3 innings. Last summer, he was named the MVP of the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego. He also won a gold medal for Team USA in the 18U Pan American Championship, striking out 17 of the 29 batters he faced.
Allard went just seven innings on the mound this season for the Tritons. In the two starts, collectively, he struck out nine batters, but allowed six hits and six walks.
“The velocity was where it should be, but that’s not normally what you would see out of Kolby,” Gellatly said. “He has a lot more command of his pitches and that just wasn’t there.”