Mid-Season Prospect-Palooza: Pitcher of the Year So Far … Tyler Olson (wait … who?)

Gonzaga_University_Entrance== The “bonus baby” left Spokane with a $10,000 check … ==

The player from the 2013 draft who has advanced to the highest minor league level is

[Yes, it’s D.J. Peterson, but it’s also a tie ….]

The pitcher with the most strikeouts in the Mariners organization is

Among starters with at least 40.0 IP, the organizational leader in FIP is

OK … the headline is a spoiler, but the answer in each case is Tyler Olson.


Let’s find out.


If you’ve been following at home, you are now conditioned to kind of ignore the 6th through 10th rounds of the draft because the teams pick college seniors who will sign for very low bonus money.

True, but sometimes college seniors who will sign for very low bonus money turn out to be good.

Olson’s bonus was a whopping $10,000.  About $2.5 million less than D.J. got, and $390,000 less than struggling teen outfielder Corey Simpson got.  It’s what you would call a “token” amount, bonus-wise.

But as a fifth-year senior out of Gonzaga, Olson didn’t have any alternatives.  From the Mariner perspective, it’s been a pretty good investment.  [Understatement alert.]


Olson started his pro career with a cross-state trek from Spokane (also his home town) to Everett, where an unfortunate BABIP of .353 masked solid numbers (only 1 HR allowed in 54.0 IP, 8.0 K/9 and .093 ISO-against).  All of which put him on our Watch List for 2014.

Ordinarily he would have earned a ticket to Low-A Clinton, but with Olson being older and more polished (5th-year senior, remember?), and the club apparently having liked what they’d seen, he got a bump up to High-A High Desert.

Of course, that’s a promotion fraught with peril, as more-highly-touted prospects like Dylan Unsworth and Lars Huijer are finding out.

But Olson carefully navigated five starts there (his BB-rate going up, but no HR allowed), and with injuries to starters all over the organization, next thing he knew — less than a year removed from college life — he was in AA.

And he didn’t get off on the right foot (4.0 IP, 6 ER his first time out), but righted the ship quickly with one of the best starts of the year on any level in his second AA appearance: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K.

[Of course, I should be using “left”-oriented language, since the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder is a lefty.]

Since then, he’s been nothing but solid, particularly with a 1.7 overall BB/9 rate, and shutting down LH hitters to the tune of .182/.260/.273, yielding only 3 XBH and 2 BB to lefties.

And when we break down his Spectometer analysis, we see that he’s been about as rock-solid against LH hitters as you can be, while still very strong against righties.

Age Lvl HR% BB% XBH + BB% ISO K% PSA+ Conv+ Comp
Olson 24 2 Tms 1.17% 5.62% 12.41% 0.114 21.31% 124 105 129
vs, L 24 2 Tms 0.95% 5.71% 8.57% 0.066 33.33% 169 155 223
vs. R 24 2 Tms 1.24% 5.59% 13.66% 0.128 17.39% 109 93 102


Does that bode for a Charlie Furbush-type future?  Tough LH setup guy?  Maybe.  Although Olson’s earned the right to keep bidding for a rotation spot.

There is a tendency for the Tom Glavine and Andy Pettitte types to be somewhat unheralded compared to the flamethrowers (though I’m not touting Olson for that kind of a career [… yet]), but a lefty with excellent command of a high-80s-to-low-90s fastball plus a changeup and a tough breaking pitch — well, obviously there’s a place in the game for that type of pitcher.

We already saw one unheralded guy (Roenis Elias) take advantage of a chance to “shoot the gap” between the current contenders for the rotation and the “Next Generation” (Victor Sanchez, Edwin Diaz, Tyler Pike, Luiz Gohara) to make a name for himself, and Olson and Stephen Landazuri have positioned themselves to be next in line.

[Landazuri, by the way, was almost the Pitcher of the Year So Far, but I gave it to Olson by a nose.]


I was unable to locate video of Olson pitching, but here’s a video of Olson talking.  You take what you can get.


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