Detroit Tigers LHP Andy Oliver - Leon Halip
Andy Oliver has ranked anywhere from 3rd to 10th in the Tigers’ system since he was drafted. Unfortunately, Andy has lost some of the luster on his star the past couple of seasons, because of his inability to throw the ball over the plate. Can Oliver become a productive big league pitcher? I think that’s a valid question to ask.
Prospect name: Andrew Oliver
Draft Status: 2nd Round 2009 from Oklahoma State. Previously drafted 17th round Minnesota Twins 2006
Frame: 6’3 210 lbs. Good, solid build. No weight concerns.
Positional: Starting pitcher until half way through 2012 season. Converted to reliever. Unclear which direction the organization will take with Oliver going forward.
Positional Projection: I see Oliver most useful as a 7th inning guy or a LOOGY. Unless he’s able to gain control/command, it’s impossible to expect anything more.
Minor League Statistics:
2011 (AAA): 8-12, 26 starts, 147 IP, 149 H 8.76 K/9, 4.90 BB/9, 4.71 ERA, 4.3 FIP
2011 (MLB): 0-1, 2 starts, 9.2 IP, 11 H, 4.7 K/9, 7.4 BB/9, 6.52 ERA 9.13 FIP
2012 (AAA): 5-9, 19 starts, 9 relief appearances, 118 IP, 103 H, 8.54 K/9, 6.71 BB/9, 4.88 ERA, 4.39 FIP
Oliver actually has some good strike out totals in the minors, getting close to a guy an inning. However, he cannot throw the ball over the plate with any regularity. His walk rates are absolutely startling, and cannot continue if he’s going to provide any value to the big league squad. He’s accumulated 318 AAA innings since 2010, and walked 5.5/9 during that time frame. That’s a lot of free passes.
BBP (Bare bones projection):
Like I said before, I see Oliver as a middle inning reliever or a LOOGY. Unless he throws the ball over the plate more, those roles are about all you can accomplish at the major league level. At 25 (in 3 weeks) years old, it’s hard to see a lot of SP projection. Could start some games for a bad team, a la Wilfredo Ledezma. I see him ending up more in the Andrew Miller mold.
Basis of Report:
-Personal observation (2010, 2011 with Tigers, film study, 2011 with Toledo)
-Compilation of various other reports
Body: As mentioned above, has a nice pitcher’s body. No concerns here.
Makeup: Mixed accounts. Got into some NCAA trouble for some questionable activity before he was drafted. If you want to read about it in more detail, check this article for more details. Seems like that’s behind him, and is a hard working kid, however.
Mechanics: Oh, this is where it gets fun. Oliver "slings" the ball toward the plate…Funky ¾ arm angle…All over the place with his release point, and is unable to repeat the same delivery time after time…separates hands early at times…brings the ball straight back after separation, upsetting his timing, causing him to fly open or to throw the ball into he ground of the right handed batters box…stiff lead arm, doesn’t drive towards the plate…
Fastball: High- 98, low- 93, average: 94 as a starter, 95-96 in relief
Does generate some good life down in the zone, and when it’s over the plate. Left handers should struggle against this pitch in particular, can run in on the hands. Has plus velocity, especially for a LH pitcher. While the velocity is well above average, has limited ability to throw the pitch for a strike consistently.
Velocity grade: 65/60
Overall Grade: 50/50
Curveball: Has above average break and spin, but no ability to throw it for a strike at this time. More of a show-me pitch at the major league level at this point, and advanced hitters who recognize the spin know to lay off. Minor league hitters still chase occasionally. Could improve as he ages, and gets more repetitions, however.
Changeup: I think Oliver will scrap this pitch if he continues to throw in the bullpen. He should focus on the fastball and curveball. Changeup wasn’t effective anyhow. Never consistently graded out about 40, would have been a "show-me" pitch at best.
Control: Often walks hitters on 3-0 or empty 3-1 counts. Cannot throw a strike when he needs to.
Command: More of the same here. Cannot locate within the strike zone.
Summation: Oliver is getting to the point where it is make or break time. He’s getting a bit old to be considered a prospect any longer. I believe that following 2013, Oliver will be out of options. This leads me to believe that the Tigers will attempt to use him in the bullpen and see what happens. I’m sure they would like to keep him in the organization, because it’s inevitable that a team would place a waiver claim on him if the Tigers put him on waivers. At this point, the club could use a shut down LOOGY, and Oliver could fill that role. If Clay Rapada can get left handers out, so can Oliver. He could fight with Darin Downs, Duane Below, and potentially Adam Wilk in spring training to work as the second lefty out of the pen. I don’t see a future as a successful starter in Oliver’s future, and would be surprised to see the Tigers use him as such.
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