GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Cody Allen was in Cleveland's Minor League camp a year ago. This spring, following a rapid rise through the team's farm system, the young reliever is vying for a spot within the Indians' Opening Day bullpen.
Indians manager Terry Francona has been impressed by Allen's early showing.
"I would say he's game ready right now," Francona said. "He obviously knows he's coming into camp with something to prove. He looks like he's in midseason form. We never tell a guy to back off, but it's obvious that he worked hard and he prepared for Spring Training, because his stuff is just electric right now."
In Wednesday's 5-1 loss to the Mariners, the 24-year-old Allen breezed through the seventh inning for the Tribe. He struck out Casper Wells, allowed a single to Carlos Triunfel and then induced an inning-ending double play off the bat of Alex Liddi.
As things stand, the only virtual locks for Cleveland's relief corps are closer Chris Perez and setup men Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smith. Righty Matt Albers appears to have a solid shot at making the club, considering he is out of Minor League options. Other bullpen candidates include Bryan Shaw, Frank Herrmann, Matt Capps, Nick Hagadone, Scott Barnes, David Huff, Rich Hill and Allen.
Last season, Allen opened the year with high Class A Carolina, but quickly advanced through Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus en route to the big leagues. In 31 Minor League outings, the right-hander posted a 1.87 ERA with 53 strikeouts and nine walks in 43 1/3 innings.
Allen had a 3.72 ERA with 27 strikeouts, 15 walks and 29 innings logged in his 27 games with Cleveland down the stretch.
Francona said it takes a special player to climb three professional levels in one season.
"The good ones [can do that]," Francona said. "Guys that are kind of special and have the ability to not only have a good arm, but to understand the game so it's not speeding up. Things like that; all the things that when you talk to Cody, you kind of see."