- Full name Steven Chandler Okert
- Born 07/09/1991 in Riverside, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 202 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Oklahoma
- Debut 04/19/2016
Drafted in the 4th round (148th overall) by the San Francisco Giants in 2012 (signed for $270,000).
View Draft ReportThe Brewers drafted Okert after each of his two seasons at Grayson County (Texas) CC, in the 43rd round in 2010 and in the 33rd round in 2011. If they want him this June, they're going to have to pull the trigger much earlier. Okert has blossomed after transferring to Oklahoma and moving to the bullpen a month into this season. A fastball that sat at 88-91 mph a year ago now resides at 90-93, consistently touches 95 and peaks at 97. He has added velocity to his slider, and it's death on lefthanded hitters. Some scouts think it's still worth giving Okert a chance to start in pro ball, though he may lack the changeup and command to make that work. They love his effortless delivery and note that he has firmed up his 6-foot-2, 219-pound frame.
Organization Prospect Rankings
After spending two seasons at Triple-A Sacramento, Okert probably won't return to the Pacific Coast League in 2017. Called up three separate times to San Francisco in 2016, he has demonstrated that he's ready to handle a lefthanded reliever role. Okert has some funkiness to his delivery. He sets up on the first-base side of the rubber with his back to the hitter and throws across his body. His arm stroke is very long in the back, but his approach is simple. Okert throws 92-94 mph fastballs, 88-91 mph cutters and mid-80s sliders. None is truly a plus pitch, but all can play that way against lefthanded batters, who don't track the ball well against him. Okert hasn't proven that his stuff plays as well against righthanders. The same could be said for the changeup he barely throws. Okert's fringe-average control and stuff is enough to get big league lefties out right now, but that might be his ceiling unless he finds a way to retire righthanders.
Okert took a step back in 2015 when his control backed up and he became too focused on using his cutter. His delivery is complicated enough to take him to precipice of control issues, but by the same token, that delivery and low three-quarters arm slot help him hide the ball against lefthanders, who hit .228 with 37 percent strikeouts in 2015. Even as he struggled to an overall 1.48 WHIP, Okert still showed a three-pitch mix that was devastating when he located. He delivers a plus, 91-95 mph fastball in on the hands of lefthanded batters and finishes them off with a plus slider that either catches the outer half or starts in the zone and dives out for swinging strikes. He relied too much on his cutter in the first half of 2015 and his slider lost depth, so the Giants took his cutter away and his slider returned to form. Okert has the ability to be more than a matchup lefty. The Giants added him to the 40-man roster in November.
After being drafted twice by the Brewers and failing to sign out of junior college, Okert emerged as a weapon in the Oklahoma bullpen as a junior in 2012. Some teams thought about drafting him to start, but the Giants have kept him in the pen, and he broke through in 2014 by striking out 32.5 percent of batters faced. Okert's funky delivery begins with the lefthander lined up on the first-base side of the rubber. He then throws across his body and lands on a stiff front leg, which makes finishing pitches difficult. It's not pretty, but Okert has shown average control, and his motion helps create deception. He sits 91-95 mph with a low three-quarters arm slot that is deadly to lefthanders, especially when he mixes in his average slider. Lefties have hit .166/.259/.203 against Okert as a pro, and not one of the 245 lefthanders has ever tagged him for a home run. He's not helpless against righthanders either because he's shown he can locate to his glove side to get in on their hands. Okert shined in the Arizona Fall League. He's likely headed to Triple-A Sacramento in 2015 and may not be limited to lefty-specialist duty.
The Giants considered assigning Okert to high Class A San Jose to begin the 2013 season, or perhaps using him as the closer at low Class A Augusta. But his fastball wasn't impressive in the spring and he ended up pitching mostly middle relief out of what turned out to be a surprisingly stout GreenJackets bullpen. Okert began to throw harder toward the end of the year, showing the low-90s fastball and hard slider that encouraged the Brewers to draft him twice out of Grayson County (Texas) CC, before the Giants signed him in 2012 after he transferred to Oklahoma. The Giants have challenged Okert to improve his conditioning. He's athletic enough to repeat his delivery despite stepping over his front leg and throwing crossfire to the plate. A good competitor who wants the ball, he's capable of throwing multiple innings, but short stints and effectiveness against lefties are his likely tickets to the big leagues. Okert could move quickly if he can fill up the strike zone.
Okert has all the equipment to become a difference-making bullpen arm in the late innings. Drafted twice previously by the Brewers out of Grayson County (Texas) CC, Okert added velocity at Oklahoma and continued to refine a hard slider that makes him especially effective against lefthanders. He topped out at 97 mph in college to climb up the Giants' 2012 draft board and showed the same heat in instructional league after signing for $270,000 as a fourth-round pick. Health and conditioning will be keys for Okert, who toned up quite a bit over the last year. He steps over his front leg in his delivery and cross-fires but has a good feel for repeating his mechanics and throws hard without obvious effort. He is competitive and likes a relief role, where he doesn't have to hold back. San Francisco expects to develop him along the lines of a Dan Runzler, a lefthander who can throw multiple innings. Okert will need to further refine a changeup to have more success against righthanders. He's headed to a Class A affiliate for his first full pro season.
The Brewers drafted Okert after each of his two seasons at Grayson County (Texas) CC, in the 43rd round in 2010 and in the 33rd round in 2011. If they want him this June, they're going to have to pull the trigger much earlier. Okert has blossomed after transferring to Oklahoma and moving to the bullpen a month into this season. A fastball that sat at 88-91 mph a year ago now resides at 90-93, consistently touches 95 and peaks at 97. He has added velocity to his slider, and it's death on lefthanded hitters. Some scouts think it's still worth giving Okert a chance to start in pro ball, though he may lack the changeup and command to make that work. They love his effortless delivery and note that he has firmed up his 6-foot-2, 219-pound frame.