Neil Allen, pitching coach for the Triple-A Durham Bulls since 2011 and responsible for working with each of the Rays' front line starters, has taken the same position at the major league level, joining the Minnesota Twins.
Allen helped lead the Bulls to three division titles and a Governors' Cup Championship during his four year tenure. He joined the Rays in 2007, coaching with Double-A affiliate Montgomery until 2009, and High-A affiliate Port Charlotte in 2010 before landing in Durham.
"We are beyond excited for Neil and wish him the absolute best," Bulls GM Mike Birling told Milb.com. "His admired work with our pitching staff has helped lead to unprecedented success on the field, but we'll remember him most for the infectious positivity and energy that have made our ballpark a better place these last four seasons."
The hiring is bold for the Twins, as they traditionally promote from within the organization, but the team that was last in strikeouts last season is hoping to tap into what the Rays have accomplished.
Tampa Bay owns the second highest number of strikeouts over the last five years, and the third highest for starting pitchers. Allen isn't solely responsible for that work, but he's surely been part of the machine that made it happen.
"Coming from the Tampa Bay organization, certainly Neil's got a resume and a reputation over there," Twins GM Terry Ryan told reporters on yesterday's conference call. "Not only has he helped them become who they are, individually there are some very impressive guys that have come through him. ... I liked the tone. I liked the energy. I liked his answers."
Allen followed Ryan by saying, "I think I'm very well-groomed and ready for this opportunity. I've been a pitching coach for almost 20 years now and have been on bus rides all around the country, so I've learned a lot."
Allen was adept at teaching the sinker, per reports of his work, and has coached many Rays pitchers that have gone on to success at the major league level, including Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, and Alex Torres.
It's reasonable to suspect that Neil would have been a top candidate to replace current Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, should he decided to follow Dave Martinez through the open door; however, there's been no indication that Hickey is intent on leaving any time soon.