Born: October 18, 1983
Height: 6′ 1″
Weight: 205
Bats: Right
Throws: Left
Drafted: 1st Supplemental Round, 48th Overall, 2005
How Acquired: Waivers
College: California State Polytechnic Univ.
Agent: LSW Baseball


Olson is a former Orioles’ prospect who’s struggled to adapt to the majors.  He also represents a demographic that the Pirates have some familiarity with:  finesse LHPs who are very hittable.  He throws a fastball that averages about 89 mph, along with a curve and change.  Until he got to Seattle, he threw a slider rather than a curve; either that, or the pitch tracking mechanisms changed their minds about what he was throwing.  He’s been a flyball pitcher in the majors, and it’s resulted in some very high gopher ball rates, mainly by right-handed batters.  They’ve hit 40 off him in a little more than a season’s worth of ABs, so he effectively turns every right-handed hitter into a 30-HR guy.  The Pirates claimed Olson when Seattle waived him in the middle of spring training 2011.

R:  2-1-1, 1.58 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 40 IP, 2.9 BB/9, 9.0 K/9
A+:  0-0-0, 3.14 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 4.4 BB/9, 11.9 K/9

Olson had a good debut in short season ball, then moved up to high A for three starts.  Between the two stops opponents hit just .172 against him.

A+:  4-0-0, 2.77 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 81.1 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 8.5 K/9
AA:  6-5-2, 3.42 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 84.1 IP, 3.3 BB/9, 9.1 K/9

Baseball America rated Olson the Orioles’ #6 prospect prior to both the 2006 and 2007 seasons.  He split the 2006 season evenly between high A and AA, posting similar peripherals at both levels.

AAA:  9-7-0, 3.16 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 128 IP, 2.7 BB/9, 8.4 K/9
MLB:  1-3-0, 7.79 ERA, 2.17 WHIP, 33.3 IP, 7.8 BB/9, 7.8 K/9

Olson pitched well in AAA.  Opponents hit just .208 against him and he fanned 8.4 per nine innings.  He got seven starts in the majors and struggled consistently, as he couldn’t throw strikes.


AAA:  9-7-0, 3.16 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 36.1 IP, 4.0 BB/9, 9.7 K/9
MLB:  9-10-0, 6.65 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 132.2 IP, 4.2 BB/9, 5.6 K/9

Joined the Orioles’ rotation in late April and spent most of the season there.  Opponents batted .309 against him, while right-handed batters posted an .880 OPS.

AAA:  2-3-0, 4.94 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 47.1 IP, 4.4 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
MLB:  3-5-0, 5.60 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 80.1 IP, 3.8 BB/9, 5.3 K/9

Olson was traded twice in January, to the Cubs for Felix Pie, then on to Seattle ten days later for Aaron Heilman.  He opened the season in AAA and posted better peripherals than ERA.  Opponents hit .222 against him with just two HRs in nine starts.  He was recalled in May and spent the rest of the season with the Mariners as a swing man.  He had major gopher ball problems, allowing one every four innings.

AAA:  2-5-0, 3.66 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 46.2 IP, 2.9 BB/9, 9.6 K/9
MLB:  0-3-1, 4.54 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 37.2 IP, 3.6 BB/9, 7.4 K/9

The Mariners obtained a fourth option for Olson and he split the season between majors and AAA, working only in relief in the former.  He had good numbers in AAA and his first (barely) passable major league season.  He wasn’t really used as a LOOGY, but did have a huge platoon split:  .829 OPS against RHP and .699 against LHPs.

AAA:  4-3-0, 3.05 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 85.2 IP, 4.9 BB/9, 6.4 K/9
MLB:  1-1-0, 2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 4.1 IP, 6.2 BB/9, 8.3 K/9

At the time the Pirates claimed Olson, their LHP situation was looking grim, with Joe Beimel and Scott Olsen both having bad, injury-riddled springs.   Olson made the roster as the only lefty and did fine through four appearances, but once Beimel was ready to return, they outrighted Olson to AAA.  He pitched as a swing man for Indianapolis, limiting hitters to a .208 average, but his control remained a problem.  He pitched much better as a starter.  When the Pirates needed an arm late in the season, they called up Brian Burres instead of Olson, even though Olson was more successful in AAA, probably because they considered Burres more reliable.

Olson will be a free agent in the off-season and will probably move on.

Baseball Reference– Majors
Baseball Reference– Minors
2011: League Minimum
2010: N/A
2009: $420,000
Signing Bonus: $650,000
MiLB Debut: 2005
MLB Debut: 7/4/2007
MLB FA Eligible: 2015
MiLB FA Eligible: Eligible
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 11/4/2007
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
MLB Service Time: 2.112
June 7, 2005: Drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1st supplemental round, 48th overall pick; signed on June 22.
January 18, 2009:
Traded by the Baltimore Orioles with Hank Williamson to the Chicago Cubs for Felix Pie.
January 28, 2009: Traded by the Chicago Cubs with Ronny Cedeno to the Seattle Mariners for Aaron Heilman.
March 18, 2011:
Claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
April 15, 2011: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates; outrighted to AAA on April 20.