Tigers Prospect Profile #3: Andrew Oliver

In his first full season with the Tigers, the organization was aggressive with the young left-hander, starting out at Double-A and ending up in the big leagues by June. Oliver still has work to do though to make it back to the bigs - where does he stand to show improvement?

Andrew Oliver
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-3
Weight: 210
Born: 12/3/1987
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Oliver entered the 2009 college season as a potential top ten pick, but after missing time on the field due to some battles with the NCAA over his eligibility, he struggles in his junior year at Oklahoma State and fell to the Tigers at the top of the second round.

The Tigers didn't back down from what were expected to be lofty bonus demands, and they inked him at the August signing deadline for just under $1.5 million.

Signing too late to make his official pro debut, the Tigers sent him to the Arizona Fall League to get some experience before sending him to Double-A right out of the gate in 2010.

With Erie last season, Oliver was very good right away. In 14 starts he posted a 6-4 record and a 3.61 ERA. He allowed 74 hits in 77 1/3 innings, while striking out 70 and getting a chance in the big leagues when the Tigers came calling in June.

With the Tigers it was very much a mixed bag for Oliver. After allowing just two earned runs over six innings in both of his first two starts against Atlanta and Minnesota, Oliver was subsequently rocked in his next three outings. In ten total innings over three starts, Oliver was knocked around for 14 earned runs while walking ten and striking out only eight.

The Tigers sent Oliver down to Triple-A in July, and while working through his command and secondary pitches, he turned in a solid performance for the ‘Hens. In nine more starts, Oliver notched a 3.23 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 53 innings.

Scouting Report
Oliver is one of the rare left-handers that can pump his fastball into the mid-90s with ease. He will sit at 93-95 with ease and some scouts have seen him as high as 97 when he reaches back for more.

Command of the fastball is lacking at times for Oliver. He is generally around the strike zone, but Oliver does have bouts with his mechanics that will leave him missing the zone all together. Refining his fastball command is one of the final steps he must take to be big league ready.

At one point, Oliver was dubbed as having one of the best breaking balls in the 2009 draft, but the quality of that pitch has vanished. He will flash the occasional plus slider at times, but the pitch lacks consistency in both command and break.

His change-up is a solid pitch that he can throw to right-handed hitters, but he lacks confidence in the pitch and doesn't use it enough throughout his starts.

Oliver absolutely must improve one of his secondary pitches and must throw quality strikes more consistently. He has number three ceiling, but without those improvements, he could be relegated to more of a #4/#5 starter.

Some scouts would still like to see Oliver moved to the bullpen where his power fastball could play exceptionally well in the late innings. The Tigers have acknowledged the potential he has in this role, but they still believe in him as a starter.














































Health Record
Oliver was healthy and strong throughout his 152 inning debut professional season. His velocity dipped at times late in the year, but his mechanics never changed and he still felt good at the end. Oliver's arm works well and he has a sturdy frame that gives him the potential to be a workhorse type starter.

The Future
The Tigers made moves in the off-season to ensure they did not have to push Oliver back up to the big leagues on Opening Day, when he may not be ready.

They have sent him back to Triple-A to start the 2011 season and he will work out of the ‘Hens rotation every fifth day. He is likely to be the first in line if the Tigers need a sixth starter this season, and he could be in Detroit at any time.

Oliver's focus in 2011 will be to improve his command and throw his slider and change-up more regularly. If he does those two things, even if the slider and change-up remain fringe-average pitches, he should be able to succeed as a back end starter in the big leagues as soon as later this year.

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