Get to Know Giants’ Prospect Steven Okert


Left-handed pitchers are at a premium around Major League Baseball. The San Francisco Giants already have some great lefties in the bigs with Madison Bumgarner, Jeremy Affeldt, and Javier Lopez, and some top prospects in Adalberto Mejia and Luis Ysla. But another Giants prospect has thrown his hat into the lefty ring.

Steven Okert is a 6’3”, 210-pound, 23 year-old southpaw who has pitched as high as Double-A ball with the Richmond Flying Squirrels. He has been nothing short of spectacular in his time with the Giants organization, but the road to get here has been long and winding.

Okert has been drafted three times. The Milwaukee Brewers selected Okert in the 43rd round of the 2010 Amateur Draft while he was a starting pitcher at Grayson College in Grayson County, Texas. He declined to sign, and he returned to Grayson for the 2011 season.

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Milwaukee would remain persistent in their pursuit of Okert, as they selected him again in 2011, this time in the 33rd round. Okert would again turn them down in order to continue his college career.

In 2012, Okert transferred to the University of Oklahoma, where his draft stock would skyrocket. In his only season as a Sooner, he would pitch primarily out of the bullpen, making 25 of his 30 appearances as a reliever. In 85 innings, he tallied a 9-8 record with 78 strikeouts and a 3.07 ERA. The Giants would reward Okert’s strong season by drafting him in the fourth round, and this time, Okert agreed to sign.

Okert’s first two seasons in the organization were very impressive. Over three levels, Okert pitched in 61 games and went 4.2 with a 2.72 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 89.1 innings.

This solid performance led to Okert being named the Giants’ tenth-best prospect on However, he was lightly regarded, being seen as nothing more than a lefty specialist, much like Lopez. Okert put much of that talk to rest in 2014.

Okert began the year in Advanced-A with the San Jose Giants, where he served as the team’s closer. In 33 games, he racked up 19 saves with a 1.53 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 35.1 innings. His dominant performance earned him a call-up to Richmond, where his great numbers continued.

In 24 games with the Flying Squirrels, he finished with a 2.73 ERA, 1.061 WHIP, 38 strikeouts and just 24 hits allowed in 33.1 innings. He also earned five saves.

Cumulatively, Okert pitched in 57 games. His ERA was extremely good at 2.11, with a 1.156 WHIP and 92 strikeouts in 68.1 innings, while surrendering just 57 hits. His 24 saves led the entire organization, more than even Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo.

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Okert also pitched in the 2014 Arizona Fall League, as the Giants handpicked him to pitch on the Scottsdale Scorpions. Okert was absolutely lights out in Arizona. He pitched in 10 games and gave up just one run in 12 innings, while giving up only five hits and one walk to go along with 17 strikeouts. Over his last six outings, he set down 18 of the 19 batters he faced.

Coming out of college, the biggest knock on Okert was his control. He issued 3.9 walks per nine innings in his sole season at Oklahoma. This was due in large part to an inconsistent delivery that involved a lot of moving parts.

But as he has progressed through the organization, his motion has become more repeatable, and in turn, his walks have decreased every season. In 2012, he issued 3.8 BB/9. 2013 saw that number drop to 3.6 BB/9, and in 2014, that number took a large tumble, down to just 2.9 BB/9.

He features a fastball that sits regularly between 92 and 95 and has touched 97. His best secondary pitch is his nasty, late-breaking slider, which has movement similar to a slurve. The slider is also his put-away pitch. Okert also uses a changeup, but it is inconsistent and too often is flat with no movement. The offspeed pitch will need to develop if he wants to get major league hitters out consistently.

Okert has begun to pitch exclusively from the stretch, as many relievers do. His delivery is somewhat similar to C.C. Sabathia’s, as both feature a slight hesitation at the top of the leg lift and deliver from a low ¾ arm-slot.

Okert has risen rapidly through the Giants organization. He seems like the most big league-ready left-hander in the organization. 2015 will most likely see him start the season in Triple-A Sacramento, and don’t be surprised if Okert finds his way to the major leagues at some point next year.