Detroit Tigers top 30 prospects for 2023: No. 11 Reese Olson
Reese Olson nearly cracks the top 10 in our 2023 Detroit Tigers top prospects list
We're almost ready to unveil our top 10 in our 2023 Detroit Tigers top prospects list. But first, it's time to go over our pick for No. 11, SP Reese Olson.
Olson was acquired at the 2021 trade deadline from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Daniel Norris. This could end up being Al Avila's best trade, granted that's not saying much. Norris was not very good for the Brew Crew, and he ended up coming back to Detroit in 2022. Olson has had his ups and downs, but he still has plenty of upside.
His above-average offspeed stuff is what gives him so much potential. When he gets ahead of hitters, it's basically over. He struck out 12.64 batters per nine in 119.2 IP last season with Double-A Erie. Overall, he had a 4.14 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 2022. He was pitching very well through the first two months of the season. It looked like he was well on his way to a promotion.
That's where his biggest flaw started to rear its ugly head—his command, especially with his fastball. He had trouble getting ahead of hitters and the walks began to skyrocket. He doesn't throw very hard, averaging between 92-94 mph with his heater on most nights, yet he still had trouble locating it.
Because of that, the long ball was an issue for him last year. His home runs per nine was 1.13 and he gave up 15 homers overall.
This is where the reliever concerns come in. His slider and his changeup are probably already big league caliber pitches, and he's still developing a curveball as well. But if he can't command his fastball consistently, then the chances of him being a starter at the big league level are slim.
The Detroit Tigers clearly see something with him, as they protected him from the Rule 5 Draft in November. The swing-and-miss stuff was just too much to risk losing him to another team. He was not invited to spring training, which was a tad disappointing, but he can still have a strong spring in minor league camp and start strong in the regular season and maybe see some time in Detroit in 2023.
Olson will likely start the season in Triple-A Toledo, where he'll start in their rotation. The Detroit Tigers will give him every opportunity to prove that he has a future as a starter, and they should. Starters are more valuable than relievers, at the end of the day.
There is a real chance he makes his MLB debut this season. If Gabe Ribas and company can fix his command, then he could be a solid rotation arm for years to come. If not, he could still be a nice bullpen arm.