Oliver Makes Smooth Transition To Relief For Marlins

FORT LAUDERDALE—Though he worked exclusively out of the bullpen in 2012, righthander Dejai Oliver didn't change a whole lot, with the exception of bagging his windup. That required a one-appearance adjustment period.

"My first outing, I remember stepping on the rubber and being in the windup and realizing what I was doing," said Oliver, who went 2-2, 5.03 in 29 appearances out of the low Class A Greensboro bullpen in 2012. "It was a hard habit to break."

He ultimately did so and was better for it. Oliver noted that on occasion in 2011 and even going back to his days at Seminole State (Fla.) JC he had run into problems transitioning from windup to stretch.

The switch from starter to reliever was made less dramatic by the fact he pitched mostly as a long man in junior college. Having two- and three-inning outings meant Oliver did not have to narrow his repertoire. He continued to complement an 88-92 mph fastball with a slider and changeup.

The 22-year-old Oliver will throw either of his secondary pitches in any count, and he made strides with his fastball command in 2012. His near 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio needs work, but Oliver believes he's pinpointed the problem.

"It was trying to be too perfect," said Oliver, whom the Marlins selected in the eighth round of the 2011 draft. "I was giving hitters too much credit. They're there because they can hit, but the good ones also get out seven out of 10 times."

Oliver has an authority on getting hitters out at his disposal. He's the son of Joe Oliver, whose major league catching career spanned 13 seasons with seven teams. The elder Oliver doesn't get behind the plate for his son anymore, but his contribution remains invaluable.

"I'm not going to waste it," Dejai said. "It's awesome to have your dad as an ex-big leaguer and hearing 19 years worth of experience."

In late August, Oliver got a four-game taste of the high Class A Florida State League, where he figures to spend much of 2013.

After surrendering eight runs on eight hits over two innings his first time out, Oliver allowed a combined two runs on three hits the last 5 1/3 innings, spanning three appearances.


• Minor league catching coordinator Tim Cossins left the organization to become the Cubs' minor league field coordinator. He had been part of the Marlins' player-development staff since 2003.

• High Class A Jupiter right fielder Marcell Ozuna was among Rawlings' minor league Gold Glove recipients.