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Q&A with Jared Oliva

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NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Arizona vs Oklahoma State Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league outfielder Jared Oliva had a successful season in 2019.

In 507 PA in AA with the Altoona Curve, he hit .277/.352/.398 with 36 steals. He then lit it up in the Arizona Fall League hitting .312/.413/.473 in 109 PA with 11 steals. In 2020, Oliva will most likely start the season in AAA with a chance at reaching the majors at some point. I had the pleasure of talking with him last week.

Q&A

What is your offseason routine like?

Oliva: I took a little bit of time off after the Arizona Fall League so this offseason has been a bit different from past seasons because I was playing up until the end of October. For the past four weeks, I’ve been doing workouts everyday. I sat down with trainers to really break down what I wanted out of the 9-10 weeks that I’d be at home. They set the program around my needs and wants as well as putting some of their twists on it. It’s a lot of explosiveness, a lot of core, kind of the typical stuff baseball players will talk about.

How would you describe your development as a player since being drafted by the Pirates?

Oliva: Looking back at it, the Pirates were a great fit for me in terms of how the organization was run. It was almost like military-esque a little bit, very hard nosed leadership. They really try to bring the best out of each guy both on and off the field which was really similar to what we did at Arizona University. When I came in, it was almost like I didn’t miss a beat.

What goals do you have to improve this upcoming season?

Oliva: It’s improving on what I learned over the course of this past AA season and Fall League. It’s every part of the game. The little tips I learned on the bases, reading the pitchers, knowing the counts, bettering my chances at stealing bases, getting in scoring position for guys behind me, doing more consistent damage at the plate, getting my body into position, and seeing what that looks like.

How much do you pay attention to launch angle, exit velocity, swing path, things like that?

Oliva: Honestly, this past year I did not. With hitting coach John Nunnally, he really opened my eyes to a lot of things and made me a better hitter. He’s kind of old school with things and learned from guys like Ken Griffey Sr. and really understands what the good hitters do. He knows what habits hitters with not much success do. The analytics, the launch angle, how the ball comes off of your bat, that will take care of itself. Line drives will never go out of style. I’m open to the analytics. It’s definitely something I’m interested in. I just haven’t paid too much attention because I know, if I’m on time, my body is in position to do damage on a pitch, the ball is going to take care of itself. That said, data and analytics are how the game’s changing nowadays and I am looking forward to see how it can improve my game.

NON BASEBALL

What kind of music do you like?

Oliva: I just did the Spotify top hits thing that everyone’s been doing but yeah, Post Malone has been my favorite artist for a few years. He’s kind of a different genre, obviously, but he’s been my favorite on all of my Spotify charts.

Are you a sports fan outside of baseball?

Oliva: My family has always watched football and basketball growing up. I’ve been a Carolina Panthers fan because my mom’s side of the family is from North Carolina. It’s been cool to see how they’ve evolved over the years from Julius Peppers to Jake Delhomme to Christian McCaferty now. I keep up to date with them but I wouldn’t say I’m a diehard by any means. I’ve also become more of a Lakers fan over the past few years. I appreciate Lebron and what he does and to have him here basically in the hometown, it’s kind of hard to turn on the tv and not see how the Lakers are doing. It’s pretty cool to see Lebron operate and do his thing in person.

I’m sure at Arizona it was cool to see their extremely successful basketball program as well.

Oliva: Those games were always a blast. They have a small arena so it was always a cool experience. It’s always packed and now we’re doing well so hopefully we can keep that up too.

What do you do in season to have fun when you’re not playing?

Oliva: Obviously the schedule can get a bit tedious with late night travel. A lot of guy want to chill and hangout and do their own thing. I’ve liked to read basically since I’ve gotten into pro ball. It’s just something for me. Before games, I’ll read a half chapter, just a couple of pages, whatever it might be. I like a lot of books that involve the mental game, talking about athletes, or things to better yourself as a human being. It keeps my mind occupied. It lets me stay focused on baseball without purely just thinking about the game. It’s just something I’ve gotten a habit of doing, I might still have my Post Malone going on, but I’m definitely reading.

As a child, do you have any stories about dominating in any particular sport?

Oliva: There’s probably a few games in little league that stand out but things weren’t always so easy. I didn’t start in high school. Everybody kind of thinks that pro athletes are dominant from the time they’re kids to being All-Americans in high school to being All-Conference in college, but that’s not always the case. I’ve learned that I’m not the only one either which is a cool part of pro ball and meeting other guys. But yeah, I didn’t start and didn’t play in high school and it was a tough time. But I knew I wanted to play pro ball like my dad and my uncle and I walked on at Arizona. I got an opportunity to go to their camp. I talked to their coach and somehow, some way, I stood out to him and he had faith in me after being a high school backup.