There was a point in 2021 between Double-A and Triple-A when former Concordia Lutheran pitcher Adam Oller was borderline unhittable. The Mets prospect gave up just two runs in 41 innings across 7 starts, striking out 57 and only walking 11. In the middle of those starts, he got moved up from Double-A Binghamton to Triple-A Syracuse.
Oller credits his 2021 success on learning to trust his stuff and throwing the ball over the plate. There was even one start during the season where the coaching staff told his catcher to stay middle-middle the whole start to force Oller to pitch in the zone and not nibble. From there, the hot streak turned him into the 2021 Mets Minor League Pitcher of the Year and a legitimate prospect in the team’s system.
It wasn’t always that way.
Oller was a 20th round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates. According to him, he was never treated like a top prospect or prioritized. Oller struggled with command and confidence and posted a 6.29 ERA across A and High-A ball in 2018.
“Every time I was in the bullpen, it was like ‘please God don’t let runners be on base,’” Oller said. “If somebody’s on base, they’re scoring.”
At the end of the season, the Pirates released him. Oller was ready to retire, a thought he had had multiple times during the season. After a difficult call with his parents Mike and Sharon, where they convinced him to try independent ball, Oller picked up the sport again with the Windy City Thunderbolts in the Chicago area.
In his fourth and final start, he struck out 16 and got signed on the spot by the San Francisco Giants.
“It was freeing,” Oller said of being released. “I just went out there and had fun.”
In 2019, Oller pitched well enough in A ball to get picked up by the Mets in the minor league portion of the Rule V Draft (where teams can sign players from other systems if they are left unprotected).
“Why?” Oller said he asked of the Giants’ farm system. “I’m an independent league signing, why would the Mets want me?”
According to his parents, Mets scouts had always liked Oller, and after seeing his uptick in velocity (from 88-90, to 93-95 after working with DST coaches in the Houston Area as well as Driveline), the Mets decided they wanted him in their system.
2020 saw no minor league baseball due to COVID-19 and Oller spent three months in Australia to get some pitching work in the offseason, a trip he calls the most fun of his life.
In 2021, the Mets started him in Double-A, where Oller dominated after a slow start.
Before the 2022 season, the Mets protected him on the 40-man roster, not wanting any other team to claim him via the Rule V draft. Oller will now go into the season competing for the No. 5 spot in the Mets rotation, potentially pitching in the same room as Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer.