Player Card: Brett Oberholtzer
Brett Oberholtzer came to the Astros along with Jordan Schafer, Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu in the July 31st, 2011 trade that sent All-Star and Gold Glove winning CF, Michael Bourn to the Braves. That was a trade I hated back then and hate even more now but I won’t get into that right now. Oberholtzer is a finesse left handed pitcher in a system that is seriously void of lefties. The 23-year old was an 8th round pick by the Atlanta Braves in the 2008 MLB Draft. Oberholtzer pitched well in the Braves system but has yet to find his niche since joining the Astros organization.
Oberholtzer, a tall and lanky southpaw, is a raw, high-ceiling arm. A smart pitcher who doesn’t have great stuff but makes up for it with a nice array of secondary pitches, including his developing curve which has the potential to be a devastating pitch. If he learns to master that pitch, we could see him donning and Astros jersey at some point in 2013. However, he will likely spend the entire 2013 season in the minors as his 2012 season was very rocky to say the least.
Oberholtzer bounced around between AA and AAA this year and failed to put up the stats you want to see from a top pitching prospect. He began the 2012 season at AA Corpus Christi to the tune of a 5-3 record with a 4.21 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 77 innings. He was then promoted (not sure why) to AAA Oklahoma City where he compiled a 5-7 record with a 4.52 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 89.2 innings. His final 2012 line was a 10-10 record with a 4.37 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 166.2 innings. While it wasn’t a disastrous season, it also wasn’t what the Astros were hoping to see out of the young southpaw.
As I said earlier, Oberholtzer will likely begin the season at AAA Oklahoma City as a member of the RedHawks starting rotation. If he pitches up to his ability, he could very well be one of the first pitchers called up for a spot start should the Astros have an injured starter or if one of the pitchers in the Astros rotation is demoted due to poor performance. Oberholtzer, in my opinion, is the last saving grace for Astros fans hoping to find some glimmer of hope in the Michael Bourn trade as Schafer and Abreu have since been released and Clemens’ stock has dropped so much due to his lackluster play that he isn’t even considered to be in the Astros top 25 prospects. Needless to say, this is definitely a make it or break it year for Brett Oberholtzer.