Former Hawkeyes pitcher Nick Allgeyer called up to Toronto Blue Jays, giving Rick Heller his first MLB'er at Iowa

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

For the first time since taking over the Iowa baseball program in 2014, Rick Heller has a Hawkeye in the big leagues. 

Former Iowa left-hander Nick Allgeyer has been called up to the Toronto Blue Jays from Triple-A and will be active Saturday, as Toronto faces the Philadelphia Phillies at 6:35 p.m. (CT) in Dunedin, Florida.

Allgeyer was a 12th-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2018. That came after a stellar 2018 season as Iowa's Friday night ace, which saw Allgeyer earn first-team all-Big Ten honors. The southpaw from St. Louis went 5-4 with a 2.41 ERA that season, racking up 95 strikeouts in 97 innings over 15 starts. His final Iowa outing came against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament (seven innings of one-run ball).

The 2018 campaign marked Allgeyer's incredible return from Tommy John surgery. After throwing 10 innings as a freshman (2015) and making a team-high 22 appearances as a sophomore (2016), Allgeyer suffered a torn UCL during a bullpen session that following September. He underwent Tommy John on Oct. 11, 2016, and missed the entire 2017 campaign, one that saw the Hawkeyes win the Big Ten Tournament and reach the Houston regional. 

“Right when he did it, Nick’s response was like, ‘Hey, this stuff happens.’" former Iowa pitching coach Desi Druschel told HawkCentral in 2018. "There are a lot of people who’d sit there like, ‘Why me? Why did this happen? What did I do? How can it be me?’ And it was never that.

“It was just like, ‘Hey, I throw a baseball, and right now, baseball players have Tommy John surgery. It happens, and it happened to me. OK, what do I need to do to get back?’”

Iowa junior pitcher Nick Allgeyer fires a pitch against Michigan during the Big 10 Baseball Tournament on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, in Omaha, Neb.

Allgeyer came back with authority, so much so that he didn't need a fourth year of eligibility to impress MLB teams. Once the Blue Jays came calling, Allgeyer quickly ascended through Toronto's minor-league system.

A 2019 season spent at High-A Dunedin saw Allgeyer own a 3.95 ERA over 23 appearances (22 starts). Even with the COVID-19 pandemic axing the 2020 minor-league season, Allgeyer showed enough to begin this year at Triple-A Buffalo. 

Two starts there — and a 1.50 ERA with 10 strikeouts over 12 frames — provided the perfect recipe for a callup. 

Allgeyer is the first Iowa player to reach the MLB level since pitcher Matt Dermody, who also was drafted by Toronto in 2013 and appeared in 28 games for the Blue Jays over two seasons (2016-17). Dermody also pitched one inning for the Chicago Cubs in 2020. 

Additionally, Allgeyer is the sixth player to reach the MLB who played under Heller. Allgeyer joins Sean Manaea, Dakota Bacus, Colin Rea, Jake Petricka and Ryan Strausborger — all of whom played for Heller at Indiana State.

More:How does Iowa return to the NCAA Tournament? Dissecting Hawkeyes' case with college baseball analysts.

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Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.