CLEVELAND -- One week from now, baseball's spotlight will be turned to the first round of this summer's First-Year Player Draft. This is where it bears reminding that teams can often find gems in the later rounds of the annual event.
Look no further than Indians reliever Cody Allen, who was picked by the Indians in the 23rd round of the 2011 Draft. Allen (taken with the 698th overall selection) soared through Cleveland's farm system and is currently working as a late-inning reliever for the Tribe.
"The scout that's responsible for drafting him should get a bonus," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "If you get a kid that low -- a kid like that -- that's pretty unique."
Heading into Thursday's game with Cincinnati, the 24-year-old Allen was sporting a 2.16 ERA through 22 appearances this season. Across 25 innings, the hard-throwing right-hander had piled up 33 strikeouts against seven walks with opponents batting .180 against him.
With two-time All-Star closer Chris Perez on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder injury, and setup men Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano subsequently moved to the eighth and ninth inning, respectively, Allen is getting more work in the seventh. Francona said he likes to use Allen and fellow righty Bryan Shaw in similar situations.
"Cody and Shaw, to me, are almost identical," Francona said. "We try to keep their innings just about identical, which they are. They both do the same things -- they can face righties and lefties. And we kind of try to stagger them."
Allen spent 27 games with the Indians in 2012 after opening the season with Class A Advanced Carolina. In 54 career Minor League games through 2011 and '12, he posted a 1.74 ERA with 128 strikeouts in 98 innings. When Cleveland called him up to the big leagues, he became the second player selected in the 2011 Draft to reach the Majors.
"Cody flew through the system, and you can see why," Francona said. "Cody's not the biggest kid in the world. But he's got tremendous arm speed."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.