Jared Oliva became the latest Arizona Wildcat to reach the big leagues, receiving a call-up from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.
With there being no minor league season this year due to COVID-19, Oliva had been training at the Pirates’ alternate site in Altoona. He has played all three outfield spots since being selected by Pittsburgh in the seventh round of the 2017 MLB Draft, and has a posted .274/.348/.403 slashline in 287 minor league games.
MLB.com ranks him as Pittsburgh’s No. 10 prospect.
“Oliva had a solid first full season then started slowly in year two with a move to Double-A in 2019, though he turned it on the second half and carried that over to a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League,” his scouting report reads.
“Much of Oliva’s slow start to the 2019 season can be attributed to a concussion he suffered early in the year. Once he righted the ship, he got back to impacting the baseball on a consistent basis, regularly registering exit velocities above 100 mph. He still hits the ball on the ground too much and if he can focus on more of a high line drive mentality, he should get balls to carry more with more power showing up as a result.
“Oliva’s plus speed is an asset on both sides of the ball and he led the [Arizona Fall League] in steals after finishing second in the Eastern League. He has excellent instincts on the bases and in the outfield. Once thought to be a fourth outfielder type, Oliva is looking more and more like someone who will be an everyday big leaguer in center or left field.”
That’s pretty cool for a guy who walked onto the Arizona baseball team and was a key member of the College World Series runner-up squad in 2016.
“It definitely makes my story a little unique, being a walk-on,” Oliva told MLB.com during spring training. “But you know what, I probably wouldn’t have it any other way. The life lessons that’ve been taught along the way — things that you can’t teach without experience — definitely makes me play with a little chip on my shoulder, but it also makes me realize just how fortunate I am to be where I am, having an opportunity to be [in Pirates big league camp]. If you had told me back in high school that I’d be in big league camp here with the Pirates, I probably would have laughed at you. It’s one of those things that I can look back on and realize how fortunate I am, that those coaches took a chance on me at Arizona. It’s a big reason why I’m here.”
Only a week remains in the 2020 regular season, but the Pirates have the worst record in MLB, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Oliva get a few starts so they can get a good look at him heading into 2021.