Jared Oliva Has Both The Skills And The Will
Jared Oliva wasn’t a highly sought after recruit when he graduated from Valencia (Calif.) High in 2013, and he wasn’t considered a mega-prospect when he was drafted out of Arizona in the seventh round in 2017.
But the Pirates liked the outfielder as much for his intangible qualities as his measurables, and in 2018 they saw the 22-year-old Oliva produce results.
Oliva hit just nine home runs in a three-year college career at Arizona and didn’t hit any at short-season West Virginia in 2017. However, he jumped to high Class A Bradenton in 2018 and hit nine homers by the end of June. He didn’t homer after that but still hit .275/.354/.424 with 24 doubles and 33 stolen bases.
In just his second pro season, Oliva showed leadership beyond his years.
"He was really a great selection by our amateur (scouting) department,” farm director Larry Broadway said. "He was a great fit because of his development, his makeup, his leadership skills, and who he is as a man and a person. He’s integrated in really well into a leadership role.
"You can see the twitch and the athlete. He can run. He can throw. He can run balls down in center field and he can hold guys accountable on this club. He’s a mature guy at this level and he just shows up every day to work and get better. He's got the skills and the will to do that.”
Oliva, whose father David played in the Red Sox organization from 1982-86, was a walk-on at Arizona and took a redshirt in his freshman season in 2014. Two years later, he was starting on a Wildcats team that reached the College World Series finals before falling to Coastal Carolina.
Oliva hit just .240 in Arizona's CWS season, but he hit .321 as a junior to put himself in position to be drafted.
The perseverance Oliva showed to become a professional makes him a good addition, but the power and speed he showed this season make him a viable prospect. His speed obviously plays, and showing power in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League suggests that double-digit home runs are possible.
"I think it will be average-ish,” Broadway said of Oliva's power. "To put a number on him, I think double digits is possible. How many he’s going to hit, who knows?, but he’s going to be a factor when he steps in the box.”