Jared Oliva isn’t your ordinary prospect. Unlike most of his peers, he wasn’t the best player on his teams growing up. Nor was he the second-best, or even the third-best. As a matter of fact, he barely got off the bench. The 24-year-old outfielder — No. 9 on our Pittsburgh Pirates Top Prospects list — never started a game in high school.
Bloodlines certainly weren’t the problem; his father and uncle both played professionally. Work ethic and aptitude weren’t issues, either. Oliva was simply a late-bloomer who had the misfortune of playing at a prep powerhouse; his teammates at Valencia High School included Keston Hiura.
A certain amount of envy was inevitable.
“Seeing some of my friends committing to big-time Division-1 schools, I was questioning my [future],” admitted Oliva. “Maybe not questioning — I believed in myself — but you do get a little jealous when you see guys move forward in their baseball careers, and you’re sitting there thinking, ‘That’s what I want to do; how do I do it?’”
Oliva had played some travel ball, but again, he’d been a benchwarmer on his high school squad. It’s understandable that recruiters weren’t clamoring…