April 17, 2021

Pirates Prospect Jared Oliva Is an Underdog Personified (FanGraphs)

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…

Read “Pirates Prospect Jared Oliva Is an Underdog Personified” at FanGraphs