BASEBALL: RockHounds’ Allen part of Team USA’s chase for gold

When USA Baseball released its 2020 Olympic roster, Midland RockHounds shortstop Nick Allen’s name stood out.

Allen already had experience on the national team, recently helping the squad qualify for the Tokyo Games after collecting a 4-0 record at the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier tournament last month.

The shortstop said he learned a lot at the qualifying tournament, picking up lessons from the team’s head coach and veteran players.

“Being with Mike Scioscia, a big league manager, he just knows a ton about the game,” Allen said. “He’s been around the game for a while.”

He looked to veteran baseball players on his team like Jon Jay, Matt Kemp, Logan Forsythe and Todd Frazier for advice on how they handled the situation.

The national team’s Olympic roster listed a total of 14 Major League Baseball veterans, including World Series champions Edwin Jackson and David Robertson.

In June, MLB confirmed that only players not on 40-man rosters would be eligible to compete in the Olympics.

This gave minor leaguers like Allen the opportunity to represent the country.

The San Diego, California native said it was awesome to receive the call up and team with veterans and upcoming prospects.

“It’s just a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to what’s going to come next,” Allen said.

Allen will depart Midland on July 16 to join the USA baseball team in North Carolina before flying out to Tokyo.

The squad will play three games against a team made up of collegiate players before facing Israel in their first Olympic matchup on July 30 at Yokohama Stadium.

RockHounds manager Bobby Crosby has known Allen for a long time and he believes his shortstop deserves every opportunity that is coming his way.

The manager said Allen’s defensive ability is among the best he has seen and he has been impactful at bat recently for the Midland.

Crosby knows his team will need to be prepared for Allen’s absence, something he already dealt with when the player was at the Olympic qualifying tournament.

“Someone else has to step up,” Crosby said. “We’ll have Logan [Davidson] play a little bit more shortstop, we have Max Schuemann that’s here now.

“He’s not a guy we can just easily replace, but other guys will step up and hopefully do a good job while he’s gone.”

Staying active with the RockHounds’ busy regular season schedule has helped Allen with his pre-Olympic preparations.

He most recently helped the team pick up a road sweep against the Corpus Christi Hooks and he hit a two-run double in a 5-4 series-opening victory against the Amarillo Sod Poodles Tuesday at Momentum Bank Ballpark.

Talking with Crosby about his game, getting ground balls and keeping a consistent playing schedule have been areas of focus for Allen before reporting with the national team.

Allen said he’s excited to for the chance to play against some of the top international competitors in the world.

In the qualifying tournament, Team USA faced Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. He’ll play against Korea and possibly tournament-favorite Japan at the Tokyo Games.

After Allen returned to the RockHounds from playing qualifying games, Crosby said he noticed the player had more confidence.

He hopes to see the shortstop return with a similar confidence boost and a different outlook on the game of baseball.

Allen said he wants to excel in his role with Team USA and help the country achieve the best result possible.

“Hopefully bring back a gold medal and just help the team in any way I possibly can,” Allen said. “I’m just gonna try to be the best that I possibly can to help the team win.”

>>Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya