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Sunday, July 10, 2022

Darren Oliver had good future in HS, then had some kind of career over two decades pitching in the majors

Rio Linda High School's Darren Oliver looked ahead to the 1988 draft and scouts who'd seen him looked ahead, too, according to his hometown Sacramento Bee.

"He's got a real good future," Phillies scout Joe Borich told The Bee. "He's real smooth with his delivery and he's growing, he's going to get stronger. You got to look at him down the road."

While the Phillies didn't ultimately get him, Oliver did have a pretty good future and he realized it. He would debut in the majors just over five seasons later and he wouldn't hardly leave for the next two decades

By the time Oliver's career was over in 2013, he'd seen 766 major league appearances and 118 big league wins to go along with 1,259 strikeouts.

Oliver's career began that year in 1988, taken by the Rangers in the third round of the draft out of Rio Linda in California. Oliver is the son of former major leaguer Bob Oliver.

Oliver started with the Rangers in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He made single-A Gastonia in 1989. But then shoulder problems limited his next three campaigns, 1990, 1991 and 1992. 

Oliver then returned to AA Tulsa for all of 1993, and earned a September call up to Texas. He saw two appearances that year, one at the start of the month and one at the very end of the season.

"I was pleased with what I saw from Oliver," Rangers manager Kevin Kennedy told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram after that second appearance. "I particularly liked his hard breaking ball. That's a good kill pitch."

Oliver returned to Texas for 43 relief outings in 1994, then 17 outings, seven starts in 1995. He continued with Texas as a starter into 1998, when the Rangers sent him to the Cardinals in a trade. 

He went 9-9 with the Cardinals in 1999, with a 4.26 ERA over 30 starts. That June, Oliver's pitching coach Dave Duncan indicated he'd seen Oliver grow on the mound, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote.

"He's doing some things that make him a more effective pitcher than when he joined the club," Duncan told The Post-Dispatch. "There's still room for improvement."

Oliver returned to the Rangers for 2000 and 2001, then saw Boston, Colorado, Florida and Houston through 2004. He moved to the Mets for 2006, then Angels for 2007. 

He returned to the Rangers for 2010 and pitched in both the 2010 and 2011 World Series. He picked up the win in Game 5 of the 2011 Classic.

Oliver then continued for two more seasons, 2012 and 2013. both with the Blue Jays. He ended with 50 appearances with Toronto as a 42-year-old. He went 3-4, with a 3.86 ERA to end his career.

Overall, Oliver went 118-98, with a 4.51 ERA in his 20 seasons. He saw 766 appearances and 229 starts.

Oliver retired at the end of his 2013 campaign.

"He had some kind of career," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told then. "Twenty years -- very few guys get to do that. To play a very small part and get to manage him is a pretty neat thing. One of the better pitchers in the game for a long time."

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,956
Made the Majors:1,321-33.4%-X
Never Made Majors:2,635-66.6%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:540-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:329

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