The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired left-handed pitcher Andy Oliver from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for catcher Ramon Cabrera. Oliver was taken in the second round of the 2009 draft by Detroit, after being considered a first round talent heading into the 2009 season.
Oliver had 31.2 innings in the majors, with a 7.11 ERA. He has a 6.5 K/9 and a 6.0 BB/9, struggling with his control numbers. The last time he was in the majors was in 2011. He was rushed through the minors a bit, going right to Double-A in 2010, then skipping to the majors after 130.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He returned to Triple-A in 2011 and made 26 starts. In 2012 he had a 4.88 ERA in 118 innings in Triple-A, with an 8.5 K/9 and a 6.7 BB/9 ratio.
Oliver’s biggest issue has been a lack of control, which started once he moved up to Triple-A. He was a starter for most of his career, but moved to the bullpen in 2012. As a reliever his numbers were better, with a 3.78 ERA in 16.2 innings, although the control issues were still there with a 20:12 K/BB ratio. Baseball America had him as the fifth best prospect in Detroit’s system last year. He throws a 92-96 MPH fastball, a below-average slider, and an inconsistent changeup. At this point Oliver is similar to Justin Wilson due to the good velocity and the control issues, although I’d probably rate Wilson higher, since his control isn’t as bad.
Cabrera was one of the top catching prospects in the upper levels, which was a thin group. He’s a small catcher, which raises questions about his durability behind the plate. He made strides with his defense and game calling last year. His bread and butter has always been his hitting. He won the Florida State League batting title in 2011 with a .343 average. He started off slow with Altoona, but turned it on the final two months, with a .301/.361/.425 line in July, and a .340/.414/.456 line in August. He was just added to the 40-man roster a few weeks ago. Oliver was on Detroit’s 40-man, and will take Cabrera’s spot.