MIAMI – It’s been a long journey for Oliver Drake. Seven years after he left the Naval Academy, Drake is in the major leagues. Recalled on Saturday, Drake is an extra arm in the Orioles bullpen.
“It’s awesome. It’s really exciting. I got the call last night. It’s kind of flown by, but it’s setting in right now, and it’s a cool experience,” the 28-year-old Drake said.
Drake has pitched at every level, and had pitched at Bowie from 2011-2014. He was limited to three games in 2012 because of shoulder surgery.
Manager Buck Showalter knows it’s a cool story.
“It would be cooler if he pitched well for us and never went down. That would be the cool part for me,” Showalter said.
Drake left the academy after two years, and is the second player from Navy to reach the majors this year. Mitch Harris became the first Navy graduate to play in the majors since 1921, and the St. Louis Cardinals reliever is the first to win a game.
The two share an agent, and Harris texted his congratulations on Saturday morning.
“He said he’ll be watching. I’ve loved watching him doing what he’s been doing right now. He’s been having some success. It’s pretty cool seeing two Navy guys right now in the major leagues,” Drake said.
Drake was 0-1 with an 0.96 ERA at Norfolk with 30 strikeouts to just four walks. He didn’t want to assume he’d finally get summoned.
“I wasn’t really sure. Lately, they’re kind of having guys shuttling back and forth, so everyone was kind of just preparing. You never know when you might get the call, so that’s all I’ve been doing was trying to make sure if they recall me, I’m ready,” Drake said.
Drake will wear number 71. It doesn’t have special meaning.
“Nothing at all besides that’s the number I’m wearing in my first day in the big leagues. It’s going to mean a lot from now on,” Drake said.
Tyler Wilson was sent down when Drake was recalled. He won Friday’s game in relief.
“Tyler needs to start…He’s a starting pitcher prospect for us and who knows where he might fit out of the pen? He’s getting back on the horse. He’s going to be down at least two to four days. He wasn’t going to pitch for a while. He’ll go right in the rotation down there,” Showalter said.
It’s possible Wilson could be recalled to pitch in one of the games of Thursday’s doubleheader against Chicago.
“Not necessarily. We have options. We have options,” Showalter said.
“I can pull somebody from the pen. That dynamic is going to kind of change each day, I think. I think it’s more you’ve kind of got an idea of who it won’t be. Right now, it’s the only thing I know for sure.”