LEFT HANDED PITCHER
Born: December 3, 1987
Drafted: 2nd round, 58th overall, 2009 (Tigers)
How Acquired: Trade from Tigers (for Ramon Cabrera)
College: Oklahoma State University
Agent: Scott Boras
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
Oliver ran into controversy before he turned pro. He was drafted out of high school by the Twins and his agent, Tim Barratta, had discussions with the Twins, but Oliver didn’t sign. Under NCAA rules, an athlete can have an “adviser,” but that person can’t negotiate with a professional team. This rule is, of course, universally ignored in baseball. When Oliver later switched to Scott Boras as his representative, Barratta ratted him out to the NCAA, which suspended Oliver. (It’s hard to decide which is the slimier hypocrite, Barratta or the NCAA.) Oliver sued and got reinstated, along with $750,000, through a settlement.
Oliver eventually went to the Tigers in the 2009 draft. He was considered a first round talent but fell to the second round, and signed for a bonus that was more than double the slot amount. At the time he threw a 92-94 mph fastball that reached the upper 90s, along with a very good curve. The Tigers rushed him to the majors in June of his first pro season and he’s increasingly struggled with his control since then. He also no longer throws the curve, instead throwing what Baseball America describes as a subpar slider and an uneven change. In the majors his fastball has averaged nearly 94 and reached 97. His inability to locate it, though, has made it hittable. The Pirates acquired him for catcher Ramon Cabrera.
AA: 6-4-0, 3.61 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 77.1 IP, 2.9 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
AAA: 3-4-0, 3.23 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 53.0 IP, 4.2 BB/9, 8.3 K/9
MLB: 0-4-0, 7.36 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 22.0 IP, 5.3 BB/9, 7.4 K/9
Oliver signed too late to play in 2009, then debuted in AA in 2010. He pitched very well there, with good walk and K rates, and moved up to AAA after 14 starts. The Tigers called him up to the majors in late June and he made five starts. The first went well, but he struggled in the next four, partly due to poor control. He finished up in AAA, where he put up mostly good numbers, but with a high walk rate.
AAA: 8-12-0, 4.71 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 147.0 IP, 4.9 BB/9, 8.8 K/9
MLB: 0-1-0, 6.52 ERA, 1.97 WHIP, 9.2 IP, 7.4 BB/9, 4.7 K/9
The Tigers sent Oliver to AAA for all of the season, other than a two-start callup in late May. He struggled to throw strikes in the two starts and also had a high walk rate in AAA. He at least had a good K rate.
AAA: 5-9-0, 4.88 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 118.0 IP, 6.7 BB/9, 8.5 K/9
Oliver spent the season in AAA and had more trouble than ever with his control. He moved to the bullpen in July and pitched only moderately better, with no improvement in his walk rate.
Oliver is an interesting acquisition for the Pirates, but unless I’ve miscalculated his options they’re going to have a tough time getting him to a point where he can pitch effectively in the majors. His control and secondary pitches are both significant issues, and he also has little experience pitching in relief. The Pirates may try to have him start, but he doesn’t seem nearly ready for that.
2013: Major league minimum
Signing Bonus: $1,495,000
MiLB Debut: 2010
MLB Debut: 6/25/2010
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2018
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 6/25/10
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2010, 2011, 2012)
MLB Service Time: 0.034
June 6, 2006: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 17th round, 516th overall pick.
June 9, 2009: Drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 2nd round, 58th overall pick; signed on August 17.
June 25, 2010: Contract purchased by the Detroit Tigers.
December 5, 2012: Traded by the Detroit Tigers to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Ramon Cabrera.