It’s been about a year since former North Hall pitcher Reese Olson decided to forego an offer to play at Georgia Tech and join the Milwaukee Brewers farm system as a 13th round draft pick. To this point, Olson believes he made the right decision.
“Ever since I was a little kid I dreamed of playing professionally, and now I am,” he said. “If I went to college and got hurt, I might never have gotten the chance.”
Midway through his second season with the Brewers Single-A affiliate Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Olson seems to be coming into his own.
After a bit of a rocky start to the year, Olson hasn’t allowed a single run in either of his last two appearances, striking out eight over eight innings and giving up only five hits. He attributes the recent run of success to a couple of factors.
For one, his second season in the system — and first with a full cycle of spring training — has allowed him to get comfortable in his career.
“Last year when I went down to Arizona (for rookie league play), I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I didn’t know any of the other players. This year was a lot smoother.”
Olson has had plenty to get used to over the past year — from living away from his parents for the first time to dealing with Wisconsin’s unusually cold spring. But things have gotten easier over time.
Mechanically, Olson said he’s focused on a couple of things. He’s seen the greatest leaps in improvement in his off-speed pitches, particularly his curveball. In high school, Olson said, he could make it by with just a fastball, but success is tougher to come by in the pros.
Olson also said he’s been focusing on keeping his body in line with the plate as opposed to shading slightly over to first like he did earlier in his career, but the biggest key to his improvement in his eyes has also been the simplest.
“I’ve just been throwing all my pitches for strikes,” he said.
As the season goes on, Olson hopes to continue his recently improved performance. Among his short term goals, Olson said he hopes to “get a little bit better every day” as well as represent the team during its much anticipated promotional night on June 20 when the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will, for one game, become the Wisconsin Udder Tuggers.
The event, which will include a whole new set of gear featuring an angry cow as a temporary logo, has recently gotten some buzz on social media.
“We’ve done a lot of promotional stuff like that,” Olson said. “We were the Wisconsin Cascabeles for a couple games last season to celebrate Hispanic heritage. But I think the Udder Tuggers is going to be the biggest one yet.”
Olson said the Udder Tugger uniforms will be auctioned off after the game, but the team is letting him hold onto the hat.
Beyond that, Olson’s overarching goal remains the same as it has been for virtually his entire life.
“Long term, I guess it’s the same as pretty much every minor league player,” he said. “I want to get up to the majors.”