Reese Olson hasn’t made it to the show yet, but he’s getting really close.
Dreaming of playing big league baseball since he was a boy in North Hall, the 23-year-old right-hander got the biggest call of his life Tuesday evening when he was added to the Detroit Tigers’ 40-man roster.
Home from a long but productive season with the Double-A Erie Sea Wolves, Olson got the news before the deadline for the Rule 5 Draft, which would have made him free to be acquired by another organization.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” said Olson, who went 8-6 this season with an organization-record 168 strikeouts. “From what I’d heard, I felt like I had a good chance. I’ve put in the work to get to this point in my career.”
Olson saw the trajectory of his career take off in 2022.
Originally a 13th-round draft pick by the Milwaukee Brewers out of North Hall in 2018, Olson capped his season in Erie with a crisp nine-strikeout showing over 5 1/3 innings to open the playoffs on Sept. 20.
Rated the No. 9 prospect in the Detroit Tigers’ organization, Olson had three starts this season with double-digit strikeouts.
His best was 11 strikeouts in a start against Toronto’s Double-A organization, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, on May 20.
The slender pitcher said the key, for him, was developing his offspeed pitches, rather than trying to get fastballs past everyone.
“I really felt things click for me this season,” Olson said.
One of his biggest points of pride, Olson said, was overcoming a bit of a slump in the middle of the season to finish strong, earning the call to big league camp for the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla.
And when he got the actual call from Tigers assistant vice president of player development Ryan Garko, that was an interesting story in itself.
Knowing he was nearing the cutoff for getting the 6 p.m. call, Olson was preparing to leave with his family to go watch his older brother, Griffin, who coaches basketball at Cherokee Bluff.
However, right before walking out the door, he heard the old land line ringing, instead of a call on his cell phone.
“I’m lucky we didn’t leave five minutes earlier,” Olson said.
In the four years since getting drafted, Olson has endured all the changes and obstacles of life as a pro prospect, not the least of which was not having a season in 2020, due to COVID-19.
However, a blessing came in the middle of the 2021 season when he was traded for left-handed pitcher Daniel Norris, who has been a big leaguer since 2014.
Olson knew that was valued by Detroit, since they dealt a proven player to acquire him.
And in 2022 all the hard work paid off with his best season yet.
Even though he’s home for a few months, there won’t be many idle hours.
His days are spent training with his friend and fellow North Hall graduate Jared Oliver (a former prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization), who now owns Line Drive Academy in Cleveland.
Once Olson reports to big league spring training, he looks forward to taking some time to catch up with all his friends who he’s already played with in the minors.
In high school, Olson was a key part of its 2017 state championship for the Trojans, the first in school history in baseball.
Olson was originally committed to Georgia Tech, but opted to turn professional when drafted by Milwaukee.