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Off Day Prospect Talk - Jeff Allison

Jeff Allison's career has gotten off to a rockier start than probably any prospect in the last five to ten years (other than Josh Hamilton). Allison was the Marlins 1st pick in the 2003 draft, and he joined the organization with as much acclaim and as high of expectations as anyone in the Marlins organization since Josh Beckett.

Soon thereafter, things went awry for Allison. Today's story in the Herald gives a good overview of the situation, as well as Allison's road back so far:

Jeff Allison, the Marlins' top pick in the 2003 amateur draft, is scheduled to pitch for the first time in nearly two years tonight when he starts for the Marlins' Single A team in Greensboro (N.C.) against Delmarva (Del.), the Baltimore Orioles' South Atlantic League affiliate.

Allison, who pitched nine innings in the Gulf Coast League before being sidelined with shoulder tendinitis two months after the draft, has been on the Marlins' inactive list for more than a year while he dealt with a number of personal issues, including an addiction to the prescription painkiller OxyContin.

Allison, 20, was Baseball America's High School Player of the Year as a senior at Peabody (Mass.) High, where he went 9-0 and did not allow an earned run in 64 innings, striking out 142.

In coming off the inactive list, Allison will fill the spot in the Greensboro rotation vacated by left-hander Jason Vargas, the Marlins' No. 2 pick last year.

Vargas was promoted this week to the organization's Florida State League team in Jupiter after going 4-1 with an 0.80 ERA in five starts for the Grasshoppers.

There's a lot of meat in that short story. Allison gets the start in low-A tonight. Vargas has been bumped up to high-A.

All of the off field issues have delayed what seemed to be Allison's inevitable ascent to the majors. Hopefully all of that is in the past now and he'll be able to focus on baseball and life. While it's nice to see him back, don't get your hopes of seeing him in the bigs too high just yet. He hasn't pitched in two years and while low-A ball isn't a very high level, it's much better competition than he's seen in a long time (or possibly ever).