The Region's Team Of Northwest Indiana


KC Royals Connor Oliver 17th Round Draft Pick

03/02/2024 12:58 PM -

Connor Oliver has fond memories of Oil City Stadium. The left-handed pitcher spent the 2019 and 2020 summers with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. Now a professional, Oliver said he’s grateful for the experience.

“The most fun I had with the Oilmen was the time before the game or after I was done pitching, being able to talk to different people from different places and get their perspectives,” he said. “That’s the coolest thing about summer ball. You get the opportunity to meet different people.”

Oliver was drafted in the 17th Round by the Kansas City Royals in last June’s MLB Amateur Draft. He saw some mound time in the Arizona Complex League at the Rookie level, where he threw one inning and allowed two hits but no runs.

The level of support professionals receive made an impression on Oliver. He said the jump from the college level was drastic in that regard.  “We have so many extra hands to help us navigate our way through everything,” he said. “They’re always making sure we have everything we need to be ready to perform at our highest level.”

Coaches aren’t harder on players in the minor leagues. They’re easier on them, Oliver said.

They’re there to help maximize potential, not force anyone into a mold. They listen when a player tells them what his body needs or what they think will best prepare them.

“I was expecting it to be a little more cutthroat when I got here and it was the complete opposite,” Oliver said. “The life of a professional baseball player is a lot more laid back than it is at the college level. You have more freedom to do what you need to do to be ready for whatever it is you have to do that day.”

Oliver spent the offseason training at his alma mater, Miami of Ohio University, then at home in Chicago. He’s been working on his driving leg to increase and keep his peak velocity.

He plans to continue putting in the work through spring training, after which the Royals will tell him where he’ll pitch this summer.

“They expect that you come in and do what you need to do for the day,” Oliver said. “In college, it was more of a job. Coaches in college are a little bit stricter in what they want out of you and that’s completely fair. They have to build a culture with 18-, and 19-year-olds. But the professional level is a completely different beast.”

The Royals haven’t yet discussed the long-term plans for Oliver. He’s been a starter for most of his life but said while he’d like to remain one, he feels like he could easily adjust to working out of the bullpen if asked.

As for the coming season, he’s not setting any specific goals. “Honestly, I just want to pitch,” Oliver said. “It’s my first real, full, professional season and I’ll have a chance to get my feet wet and understand what needs to be done to help my team win.”