Yesterday we examined San Francisco Giants rookie reliever Derek Law. Today we'll take a look at another rookie bullpen asset brought to the majors by the Giants last night, lefty Steven Okert. He made his big league debut against the Diamondbacks last night, throwing two shutout innings on a hit, two walks, and two strikeouts.
The basic background from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Steven Okert, LHP, San Francisco Giants
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 6-3 WT: 210 DOB: July 9, 1991
2013: Grade C+; 2014: Grade C; 2015: Grade C+
Steven Okert is a big lefty who can hit 95-96 MPH. His slider looks plus when thrown properly but his command can be inconsistent and he has occasional troubles against right-handed batters when his location is off. He can be overpowering however, especially against lefties, and there was talk he could close games eventually in the majors though that seems less likely after an erratic season in Triple-A. Okert is rather similar to fellow Giants lefty Josh Osich, who is just past eligibility limits for the book this year. Both are big lefties with live arms who should be valuable middle relievers going forward, with some chance to pick up saves under the right circumstances. Grade C+.
Okert was a fourth round pick from the University of Oklahoma in 2012. He's moved steadily up the ladder ever since and was effective at each level, posting a career 2.83 ERA in 226 innings, with a 256/87 K/BB with 208 hits allowed. He's collected 29 saves in 35 career opportunities and was throwing very well in Triple-A before his promotion, allowing six hits and two earned runs with zero walks and eight strikeouts in 6.2 innings.
Okert's biggest problem has been somewhat erratic command but his stuff moves well enough that minor league hitters had trouble with him even when his walk rate was elevated. He showed strong improvement in his command this spring and was ready for the big league trial. At a minimum he should make a fine LOOGY but his stuff is sufficient for general middle relief and set-up work. Command allowing, he could get beyond that role eventually.
His lively left-side arm will certainly make him attractive for real baseball clubs as long as he stays healthy. Fantasy-wise, he's a source of strikeouts and filler innings right now with some speculative future value.