Indianapolis Indians left-hander and 2014 International League All-Star, Andy Oliver, was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the second round of the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft.
The Phillies must list Oliver on their 25-man roster throughout the duration of the 2015 season, and as an active player (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days during the campaign, in order to retain the southpaw within their organization. If Oliver does not remain on the Major League roster, he must be offered back to the Pittsburgh Pirates for $25,000.
A staple of the Indianapolis Indians’ pitching staff over the last two seasons, Oliver went from the club’s Opening Day starter in 2013 to an All-Star closer in 2014. The former second-round selection (58th overall) joined the Tribe by way of trade with the Detroit Tigers and arrived in Indianapolis as the No. 5 overall prospect from his previous organization’s farm system.
Oliver quickly made his presence felt as part of his new Tribe rotation. The southpaw opened the 2013 campaign with 14 consecutive shutout innings through his first three starts, and after winning each of his first two outings in May, became the Indians’ lone player that season to be awarded as an IL Pitcher of the Week. By early June, he had made three scoreless starts and allowed no more than one earned run in nine of his 14 appearances.
After struggling with control issues through July and most of August, Oliver bounced back to stamp the exclamation point on his solid 2013 season. He returned to the rotation on Aug. 18 and struck out 15 batters over his final 8 2/3 innings.
The high-note ending helped tie Oliver with Justin Wilson for the Victory Field single-season record of 138 strikeouts, and gave the Tribe a 17-7 record during his 24 starts.
Last year marked a different tale with similarly impressive results.
Pitching exclusively in relief for the first time of his career, Oliver won the Tribe’s 2014 Relief Pitcher of the Year award after converting 13 of 16 save opportunities while holding opponents without an earned run in 36 of his 48 total games. The rookie closer also received recognition from the league with a selection to his first pro All-Star game, where he induced a double play in 2/3 innings of work.
Command issues then returned during the second stretch of the season, but Oliver otherwise continued mowing down opposing batters with 27 strikeouts in 18 innings following the All-Star Break. He surrendered just 11 base hits in 65 at-bats during that stretch (.169), combining with his equally strong first-half numbers to lead all IL relievers in average against (.156) and rank second in strikeouts-per-nine innings (11.95). He closed out 32 games for the Indians to rank fourth in the entire league in games finished.
Oliver concludes his two-season stint with the Tribe having gone 8-8 with 13 saves, a 3.53 ERA (74 ER/188.1 IP) and 223 strikeouts in 48 games (24 starts).