Friday, May 6, 2011

Prospect Profile: Lester Oliveros

Profile: RHP - 5'11" - 225lbs -BT:R - TH:R - 2011 Age: 22


• FB 93-95: Has added more run in recent years, making this more than just a hard offering. (55-60)
• SL 86-88: Tight rotation and late break make it hard to pick up. Swing-and-miss offering. (55-65)
• CH 86-88: Show me pitch, lacks feel, movement, differential (35-40)


The hard throwing Oliveros is just one more product in a long line of imports the Tigers have taken from the South American nation of Venezuela. Signed as a 17 year old, he spent two years pitching in the Venezuelan Rookie Leagues before making his US debut with the Tigers Low A team.

Oliveros has a rather high effort 3/4 delivery but repeats it well, generating plus velocity with a fastball that has touched 96-97. He works somewhat below that, but comfortably pumps his fastball in at 93-95 mph. The fact that he repeats his motion well allows him to command that velocity better than a lot of other young arms. Though it should be noted that I find his command to be good than elite. He can get away with just throwing his stuff in the zone and letting it do the work for him for now.

His slider is his primary off-speed offering and I'd say it's a legitimate plus offering. The pitch has very tight rotation and hitters just can't pick it up. It breaks hard and it breaks late making it tough to hit even when hitters can spot the speed differential. His change up is more of a show-me offering at this point and it's always been too straight for my liking. He won't throw it often and when he does, hitters tend to see it well - I've only saw him use the pitch twice, and both times the opposing batters roped it. He won't necessarily need a third offering at the next level, but having it would allow him to be a more consistently reliable late inning option for those days when his slider might not be there.

Performance Analysis:


The strikeout rates he's posted at every level are clearly elite, and unlike some pitchers who rack up huge MiLB K rates with command, a huge array of pitches, or a funky delivery, Oliveros is pretty straight forward: he's coming right at you with stuff. He can throw his fastball past you or get you to swing and miss at the slider. It's a combination that relievers have used for a long time, it works, and he's got it.

Unlike so many of those who use that combination however he shows better command and he's improved his ground ball rate as he's progressed.


It's still a tad early but he's looking like he could be a high end 7th inning arm, and if his changeup ever develops, maybe a setup man or closer.

Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery. 

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