Allen St. Clair's numbers were solid at Ogden in 2008, but many wondered what all the fuss was all about the highly-touted pitcher. Then in 2009, using his preferred middle name Cole, he demonstrated the talent that Dodgers draft guru Logan White saw when he called him "the sleeper in the draft." He could have been ranked much higher but we placed him in the No. 25 slot among our top prospects.
Certainly using a different name didn't make the difference, but there was an obvious difference between the rookie Allen in 2008 and the Great Lakes closer who went by the name of Cole, not in small part because he was was recovering from an arm injury suffered in 2007.
The young man was born to an amazingly athletic family, his father played basketball for UCLA, his mother organized and competed on the first crew team at UCLA and his sister, Oliva, is on the crew team at UC-Irvine and Texas and his other sister, Elise, is on the sailing team at Hawaii.
His accomplishments in high school and college were dazzling.
A 2004 graduate of Foothill High School in Santa Ana, California he was a two-year starter in baseball for the Knights. He was named the 2004 league MVP -- an honor enhanced by the fact he topped his teammate Phillip Hughes, who was the number-one draft pick by the New York Yankees.
In 2004, his senior year, he was 11-1 with a save while maintaining a 1.16 ERA with 83 strikeouts in 72.2 innings and limiting batters to a combined .209 average.
Did we mention he was on the academic honor roll for all eight semesters and named a scholar athlete with a 3.6 grade point average? That continued through four years at Rice University.
As a freshman at Rice in 2005, he was a perfect 2-0 record with two saves and a 3.26 ERA in 47 innings while leading the pitching staff with 32 appearances, all in relief. He averaged 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings of work, the best mark on the staff and held hitters faced to a composite .208 batting average.
His sophomore year was even better. He earned earned All-America; All-Conference USA (first team); All-Silver Glove Series and was on the C-USA Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll. He finished fifth in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (12.2), 10th in ERA (1.82) was 22nd in saves (11) and held opponents' to a .151 batting average.
He spent the summer pitching for the United States National Team, against international players who are often older and professionals in their native countries. He compiled a 4-0 record with three saves and a 0.69 ERA in 13 appearances and struck out 43 hitters in 26 innings.
But then he was beset by arm ailments so serious that many scouts began to doubt him. He missed most of the 2007 season but even so, Cleveland drafted him in the seventh round. He finished his abbreviated year with a 1.91 ERA in 28.1 innings and 16 appearances, holding the opponents to a combined .214 batting average and averaged of 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Cole returned for his senior season in 2008 and helped lead the Owls into the College World Series. He wasn't hitting 95 on the speed gun anymore, but he still became one of the nation's most dominating closers, posting a Conference USA-leading 10 wins with a 2.09 ERA in 21 relief appearances and holding opposing hitters to a .204 batting average.
Following the season he was selected as the winner of the 2008 Lowe's Senior Class Award in the baseball division. The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of coaches, media and fans, is presented annually to college baseball's outstanding NCAA Division I senior student-athlete. He was also named the recipient of the 2008 Bob Quinn Award, given to the most outstanding senior student-athlete at Rice who exemplifies leadership and academic and athletic excellence.
His teammates named him "The Bull" because he would charge the hitters in any situation. And Rice head coach Wayne Graham said, "If he gets back to 100 percent physically, he will be one of the best pitchers in the country, if not the best. He has presence and he has stuff. His ceiling is as high as anyone we've selected in a number of years."
Many Major League teams passed on calling his name least early in the draft, but White told LADugout he was delighted Cole was still available when they selected him in the seventh round. "Sure he had an arm injury but he seems to be over that. I don't know if he will ever throw 95 again, but he doesn't need to.
"He's a real gamer and I love how he competes. He's a big, rangy athletic guy that was throwing a good, moving fastball at 88-92 with a good breaking ball plus good sinker and a motion that makes it hard for the hitter's to pick up the ball. He's got really nasty stuff.
"He was projected a #1 pick at one time and we were surprised and delighted to be able to get him. He may be the bargain of the draft. His ceiling was so high, we just had to take him. I think he will move up quickly and could be in the big leagues before anybody."
He seemed to spend 2008 settling in to the professional scene, then last season he took off.
Cole finished 4-1, 2.48 with a team-leading 15 saves. He dominated left-handed hitters, allowing only an 0.87 ERA and a .216 average. He finished the second half of the season with a 2.05 earned run average and over his final 10 appearances he didn't allow a run, gave up eight hits and struck out 11.
He was deadly at home, posting a 3-0. 1.77 record with 30 strikeouts in 26 innings.
He is certain to move up at least to to Inland Empire in 2010. The kid will be 23 and great things should start to happen to him.
LHP ALLEN COLE ST. CLAIR
6-5 225 bl tl
Born- July 30, 1986 in Newport Beach, California
Obtained- Selected #7 in the 2008 First-Year Draft
year team w-l era gm gs sv in h bb so ave
2008 Ogden 0-0 3.18 12 0 5 17.0 18 5 22 .261
2009 GLakes 4-1 2.48 30 0 15 36.1 30 13 45 .226
Totals 4-1 2.70 42 0 20 53.1 48 18 67 .237