In 2005, Joe Jordan made Garrett Olson his second draft pick as the Orioles' Scouting Director. In just his second professional season, Olson already has little left to prove in the minor leagues. He is an extremely intelligent pitcher and seemed to rise to the occasion after his promotion to double-A Bowie. Olson also answered any remaining questions about his durability by throwing a combined 165+ innings.
DOB: 10/18/83 Height: 6-1 Weight: 200 B/T: R/L
Garrett Olson's age 22 season:
Olson has an average fastball for a left-hander at 89-92 MPH, though it touched a notch higher than that late in the season. It has a ton of life and he does a good job of keeping it low in the zone. Opponents at both levels had trouble lifting it for extra base hits. Olson also has the best control of any starter prospect in the system.
Olson also has a big breaking power curveball that still probably rates as his best pitch, despite the improvement of his other pitches over the past year. Fellow lefties are rendered helpless against it. Olson also took a step forward in 2006 attacking right-handers and it all starts with his changeup. Once his weakest offering, it now rates as a solid third pitch and shows even more room for improvement. It has natural life that mimics a splitter.
Though he has only 84.1 innings above A-ball, there are many within the organization that believe Olson is ready for the majors already. If the Orioles weren't intent on keeping him a starter, there is little doubt that he could be successful out of the bullpen by opening day. With the high-priced additions of this off-season, Olson will start at triple-A Norfolk and likely battle with Hayden Penn for the #1 starter slot. Penn will likely get his chance at a major league spot before Olson but, with the likes of Steve Trachsel and Jaret Wright as the roadblocks, both will get plenty of chances.
Garrett Olson should have a slot in the rotation nailed down by 2008 and projects as a mid-rotation starter. He is already close to his ceiling and only the further development of his changeup is holding him back. There are pitchers in the Orioles' system with higher ceilings than Olson, but he is easily the safest bet on this list.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com