David Oliva made it as high as Double-A in professional baseball. His brother, Steve played a few seasons in the lower levels of the Minors. David’s son Jared is a pretty safe bet to outperform both of them. The Pirates’ seventh-round pick out of the University of Arizona, Oliva had a solid first full season then started slowly in year two with a move to Double-A in 2019, though he turned it on the second half and carried that over to a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League.
Much of Oliva’s slow start to the 2019 season can be attributed to a concussion he suffered early in the year. Once he righted the ship, he got back to impacting the baseball on a consistent basis, regularly registering exit velocities above 100 mph. He still hits the ball on the ground too much and if he can focus on more of a high line drive mentality, he should get balls to carry more with more power showing up as a result.
Oliva’s plus speed is an asset on both sides of the ball and he led the AFL in steals after finishing second in the Eastern League. He has excellent instincts on the bases and in the outfield. Once thought to be a fourth outfielder type, Oliva is looking more and more like someone who will be an everyday big leaguer in center or left field.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Oliva was an under-the-radar prospect as an amateur, one who wasn't drafted out of high school or when he was eligible at Arizona as a redshirt sophomore. The son and nephew of professional baseball players, Oliva did put himself on the map as a junior, but still wasn't taken until the Pirates nabbed him in the seventh round of the 2017 Draft. He was sent straight to the Class A Advanced Florida State League for his full season debut and excelled there, putting him on a path to easily surpass expectations.
Lean and athletic with wiry strength, Oliva can do a lot of things well on the field. While there was some concern about swing and miss coming from a grooved swing, Oliva managed his strikeout rate well and drew walks while showing the ability to consistently impact the ball. Nine home runs might not sound like a lot, but in the pitching-friendly Florida State League, it's not bad and he has the potential for 12-15 homers a year. His speed is plus, and sometimes grades out as a 70 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, allowing him to be a basestealing threat (he finished third in the system with 33 steals in 2018) and allowing him to play a solid defensive center field.
Oliva has shown steady improvement since joining the organization and could be a steal of his Draft class. He might end up being a fourth outfielder when all is said and done, but don't be shocked if he shoots past that ceiling as well.