Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential 2021 Roles For Jared Oliva


After making his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2020, what role could young outfielder Jared Oliva play for the Bucs in 2021?

During the 2020 season, players made their MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates. One of these players was outfielder Jared Oliva. Even though it was not an extended look, the young outfielder did appear in six games for the Pirates.

Oliva took an uncommon route to the Major Leagues. He was not a star that was drafted out of high school, and walked on at the University of Arizona. The unusal route continued for Oliva in college as he spent four years in college instead of the usual three. Following his redshirt junior season with the Wildcats, Oliva was selected in the 7th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Once his professional career began, Oliva started to hit and slow bases. Throughout his time in the minors this continued. These skills helped Oliva make his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates last September.

The highest level Olvia reached in the minors was Double-A Altoona in 2019. With the Curve, Oliva hit for a .277/.352/.398 slash line with a 8.3% walk rate, 20.5% stikeout rate and a 123 wRC+. This came after he hit for a .275/.354/.424 slash line with a 8.8% walk rate, 20.0% strikeout rate and a 124 wRC+ with High-A Bradenton during the 2018 season.

Oliva accumulated 454 plate appearances in 108 games with Bradenton and 507 plate appearances in 123 games with Altoona. With Bradenton, Oliva swiped 33 bases. He followed this up with 36 stolen bases for the Curve.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic wrecking the world and delaying the start of the 2020 baseball season, Oliva was on his way to making his Triple-A debut. This would have put him on the doorstep of the Majors and set him up to make his MLB debut in 2020. While he did not make his Triple-A debut, he did, indeed, get to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2020.

During the final week of the season Olvia appeared in six games for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In these six games, Oliva was 3-for-16 with all three hits being singles. He did not draw a walk, struck out six times and collected his first MLB stolen base.

So, as the offseason beigns to rev up, what role could Oliva play for the Pirates in 2021? Well, there are a few different roles he could play. What role he ultimately plays for the Bucs will likely hinge on how the rest of the offseason goes.

If spring training started today, odds are, Oliva would be competing with Anthony Alford for the starting job in center field. Whoever would not win that job would likely be the front runner to be the team’s fourth outfielder.

Things could change though if the Pirates add an outfielder this offseason. If they add someone to start in center field, this then puts Oliva and Alford in a competition for the fourth out field spot. Odds are, due to minor league options, Alford would get the job with Olvia being optioned to Triple-A.

The team could also add a fourth outfielder this offseason. If this were to happen, again, it would likely create a scenario where Alford and Olvia compete for the starting job in center field. While having minor league options could hurt Oliva, if he ermeged as the clear favorite at the position it may not matter.

Oliva could also be a platoon option for right field. Throughout his MLB career Gregory Polanco has struggled against left-handed pitching. This could create a scenario where the Pittsburgh Pirates want to have a platoon partner for right field in 2021, Oliva could be the guy.

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If Oliva were to be the team’s center fielder in 2021, he could also be the lead off man. With his minor league on-base percentage and stolen base numbers, Oliva would appear to be a hitter that would do a good job both of getting on base at a high rate and causing havoc once he gets on base.

No matter what the role is, odds are, Oliva will have one with the Pirates during the 2021 season.