While most teams had no idea he was draft eligible as a sophomore at the Naval Academy, the Orioles scooped up Oliver Drake in the 43rd round of the 2008 MLB draft and signed him for $100,000. He made an impressive full season debut in 2009 when he was solid in nearly every statistical category for the Delmarva Shorebirds. He jumped up to Frederick for 2010 remained consistent, but a dramatic rise in home runs has dropped his stock a bit.
At 6′ 4″, Drake moves well for someone his size. He has a smooth, repeatable delivery and fields his position well.
Drake generally sits in the 90-94 mph range with his fastball, which is fairly straight. He gets knocked around when he doesn’t spot his fastball well and catches too much of the plate often. He needs to keep the pitch down in the zone more often in order to limit the home runs.
His slider flashes plus but is very inconsistent, sits in the 80-84 mph range and generates a ton of swing and misses, though he hangs it up in the zone too frequently. He’ll work in a changeup as his third offering.
If his changeup becomes the average pitch he needs it to be and he improves his command, he could become a #4/#5 starter. However, the more likely outcome is a future set-up man, as his fastball/slider combo would work well out of the bullpen. The Orioles will give him every opportunity to remain a starter until it’s clear he doesn’t belong in the rotation.
With a shaky Arizona Fall League performance behind him, Drake will look to start fresh as a member of Bowie’s rotation in 2011.