Detroit Tigers: Reese Olson may have higher upside as a reliever

Erie Seawolves pitcher Reese Olson (18) throws a pitch against the Richmond Flying Squirrels, on
Erie Seawolves pitcher Reese Olson (18) throws a pitch against the Richmond Flying Squirrels, on / BENJAMIN CHAMBERS/ERIE TIMES-NEWS / USA

The Detroit Tigers may have a nice future bullpen piece in Reese Olson

The Detroit Tigers announced which prospects they added to the 40-man roster and will protect from the Rule 5 Draft yesterday. One of the players they protected was right-handed pitcher Reese Olson, who pitched the entire 2022 season in Double-A.

Olson was a part of a trade deadline deal in 2021 that sent Daniel Norris to the Milwaukee Brewers and Olson back to Detroit in return. That ended up easily being Al Avila's best trade, as Norris struggled with the Brew Crew and Olson has largely been a bright spot in the Tigers farm system.

Olson pitched 119.2 innings for the Erie SeaWolves this past season, putting up a 4.14 ERA and racking up a team-record 168 strikeouts. The stuff definitely plays.

He got off to a fantastic start, posting a 3.15 ERA through the first two months of the season. He seemed primed for a promotion. But this is why I'm not a scout, as he struggled in June and July. He got better in August and September, but if he had kept up his pace from early on in this season, he surely would have reached Toledo at some point in 2022.

If there's one thing that was a recurring issue for Olson throughout the 2022 season, it's that struggled the second and third time through the order. Olson had an ERA over 6 in innings 4-6 this season.

This isn't the worst thing in the world. Again, Olson has great stuff. Fangraphs rates both his slider and changeup as 60-grade pitches. However, his biggest problem lies in his command, which Fangraphs rates as 30-grade. His fastball is where it's most noticable. He seems to have a tough time commanding that pitch as the game goes on.

Moving Olson to the bullpen, where he would only pitch an inning or two at a time, would allow Olson to be put in situtations where he could be the most successful. His stuff could also play up as a reliever.

That being said, the Detroit Tigers should still use Olson as a starter in the minors for the time being to see if he can figure things out. If he can, that would be a major development. He has the stuff to be a starter in the big leagues. He just needs to learn to harness that fastball.

Reese Olson is a great prospect. The Detroit Tigers got him for virtually nothing. The fact that they protected him from the Rule 5 Draft speaks volumes. They view him as someone that can help the team in the future. As of right now, he may help them the most out of the bullpen.

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