Baltimore Orioles: Oliver Drake Ahoy!


Mar 3, 2015; Lakeland, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Oliver Drake (71) pitches during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles have added Oliver Drake to their roster, completing a circuitous path over eight years from the Naval Academy to MLB.  A 43rd-round draft pick in 2008 who has gone through shoulder surgery and 176 games over every last stop of the Orioles’ minor leagues, it is quite a story of fulfillment.

Originally from Massachusetts, he played both baseball and hockey in high school. Coming out of a prep school, the academics were the attractive feature at the Academy. He played two years of baseball there before leaving to pursue the pro baseball dream. His college record was good though not spectacular, with a 9-6 record over 147 innings.

Navy is looking like a baseball pitching factory right now. Mitch Harris – an actual Naval Academy grad who served his required time as a weapons officer – debuted on April 25th for the Cardinals. He has been in 11 games so far and has a 5.06 ERA.

Harris is the first Navy graduate to play in MLB in 80 years. It is a great story, including how his pastor father sent him baseballs to use on board the ship, since any wild pitch went into the ocean! Another challenge was finding shipmates who could successfully catch him without getting killed when missing a pitch.

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Drake has be just about as “lights out” this year as is possible. In 16 games of relief and 18.2 innings pitched, he has an ERA of just 0.96 with 30 strikeouts. Featuring a terribly nasty splitter, he has also accumulated eight saves on a WHIP of 0.750.

Over his entire minor league career he is 32-29 with a 3.45 ERA. He has good size at 6-4, 215.

It would be a great addition to have another shut-down type of arm at the back end of the bullpen. Is it a lot to hope for from a rookie? Probably. But Drake is a guy who has now accumulated a lot of experience, and we know he is plenty smart enough to maximize his skills. So this could be fun to watch.

UPDATE >>>> Oliver Drake certainly made a very positive first impression Saturday night. Being called into a scoreless game in the 9th inning, he pitched three more scoreless frames — giving up two hits and striking out two. He threw 25 of 37 pitches for strikes. But perhaps his best play was saving the game with a tag at home plate — after he threw a ball in the dirt that was shoveled to him in the very nick of time.

BUT, of the Orioles as a team … it’s a math thing: You can’t win if you can’t score!

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