Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Making the jump from Erie
By Jason Beck from DetroitTigers.com
The Tigers will replace Rick Porcello in their rotation with another youngster, this one in his first pro season. They'll call up 22-year-old Andy Oliver for his Major League debut against the Braves at Turner Field on Friday.
The Tigers confirmed the move on Tuesday, two days after they sent Porcello to Triple-A Toledo to work out his sinker and slider amidst a classic sophomore slump and the same day that Oliver was named to the U.S. team roster of the XM All-Star Futures Game. Detroit called up reliever Jay Sborz to take Porcello's roster spot, so they'll need to make another move after Thursday's series finale against the Mets.
Oliver is 11 months older than Porcello, having pitched in college at Oklahoma State. Experience-wise, however, he actually has fewer pro starts. The Tigers drafted the left-hander as a second-round pick last year once he dropped down other teams' lists. Though Oliver's numbers last spring at Oklahoma State were disappointing, Detroit saw promise that he could join their ranks of gifted young arms in the system.
Oliver didn't get started until the Arizona Fall League at the end of last season, but once the Tigers challenged him with an immediate assignment to Double-A out of Spring Training, Oliver took advantage. He rebounded from an up-and-down April to post a 3.12 ERA in his next 10 outings, six of them quality starts. He tossed three of those in a row in May, scattering four runs on 16 hits over 20 1/3 innings with four walks and 18 strikeouts.
With seven home runs allowed over 77 1/3 innings heading into this week, Oliver has generally avoided the home run danger that befalls many young pitchers in the smaller ballparks of the Eastern League. He'll try to keep that going in Atlanta, where the summer heat can send balls carrying.