Mariners' Olson lands in right spot

AquaSox left-hander tosses one-hit shutout in fifth pro start

By Jonathan Raymond / | July 10, 2013 9:35 PM

There's an obvious risk and reward confronted by every college junior who gets taken in the First-Year Player Draft.

For third-year college players, it's really the last time to wield any leverage in bonus negotiations, with their senior year still a viable option. But if they choose to exhaust that option, they do so knowing they may get hurt or actually bring down their stock for next year's Draft.

For Tyler Olson, it's hard to imagine things working out much better than they have.

The Mariners prospect pitched a complete-game one-hitter in his fifth professional start Wednesday night, striking out 10 and issuing just one walk, as short-season Everett blanked Eugene, 5-0.

"I was just throwing strikes, getting ahead of batters, throwing first-pitch strikes," Olson said. "The off-speed stuff was working really well, too, and I was just over the plate, had pretty good command tonight and let the defense work.

"Obviously, going deep in the game is kind of what our philosophy is -- to get the lead, go deep. And that was my first win in my first year here, so all that combined made it pretty spectacular."

Olson arrived in Everett after Seattle selected him in the seventh round of last month's Draft. It was an ideal landing spot for the 23-year-old left-hander, who grew up in Washington and attended Gonzaga University.

"It's amazing, especially with my family being close. The only start they missed was the one across the border in Vancouver. And being familiar with the area, I'm a little more comfortable, not having to make a huge adjustment," he said. "It's amazing to be playing for the local team."

It was not, however, the first option he was given to begin his pro career. Oakland took Olson (1-1) in the 17th round of the 2012 Draft and, with his senior season at Gonzaga looming, he opted not to sign.

He wound up going 9-4 with a 2.48 ERA over 101 2/3 innings for the Zags, striking out 91 batters and walking 31 to earn West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year honors.

"I mean, this is the plan, the way I saw things working out in my favor in going back for my senior year," he said, "winning the conference, getting drafted higher, by a team that is respectable and treats players real well. I'm really happy with the decision to go back, it benefited me a lot."

Through five Northwest League starts, he has a 3.54 ERA and 26 strikeouts against nine walks over 28 innings.

Possessing a repertoire that includes a curveball, slider and changeup -- the pitch he cited as key to Wednesday's success -- and a fastball that runs in the upper 80s, Olson said his first impression of the pro game was how much more deliberate he had to be about pitching.

"Definitely the pitchability, learning to pitch inside, because in college you got away with letting the two-seam [fastball] run outside," Olson said. "There are more intuitive hitters here and you have to work inside and then work off that with your off-speed pitches. I'm learning the game at a new level."

Eugene starter Erik Cabrera matched zeros with Olson until the sixth, when Phillips Castillo delivered an RBI double and Lonnie Kauppila lifted a sacrifice fly.

Everett shortstop Jack Reinheimer, a fifth-round pick out of East Carolina, went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .337 in 22 games. Austin Wilson, drafted 49th overall out of Stanford, doubled, walked twice and scored a run for the AquaSox.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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