Oliver Gardner Drake
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 215 lb.
- School United States Naval Academy
- High School Northfield Mount Hermon School
- Debut May 23, 2015
Pitcher Oliver Drake was a 43rd round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2008 amateur draft, out of the United States Naval Academy. Scouted by Dean Albany he was signed for a $100,000 bonus. Most teams didn't realize that Drake had attended a year of prep school before the Naval Academy, making him draft eligible after his sophomore year, and that he wouldn't have to fulfill his military requirement if he didn't return for his junior year.
Because of his unique situation, Drake made his professional debut with the Bluefield Orioles in his draft year of 2008, also seeing time with the Aberdeen IronBirds. He went 1-0 with an 0.82 ERA in 12 relief appearances that first season, but as befits someone who was drafted in such a low round, it took him a long time to make it to the major leagues. He was 28 and in his 8th professional season when he got the call to the Show on May 23, 2015, replacing another rookie, Tyler Wilson on the roster. He pitched 3 innings in a 13-inning 1-0 Orioles loss to the Miami Marlins, allowing 2 hits and no runs while striking out 2. He had no decisions in 13 games for the Orioles, with a 2.87 ERA.
Drake recorded his first big league win on September 23, 2016, pitching a scoreless 11th and 12th inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks in a game crucial to the Orioles' postseason hopes. His strong performance set the stage for Mark Trumbo to lead off the bottom of the 12th with his major league-leading 44th home run, giving the Birds and Drake a 3-2 win. He was 1-0, 4.00 in 14 games. In 2017, he split his time between the Orioles and the Milwaukee Brewers, going 3-5, 4.66 in 64 games, with his first career save.
In 2018, Drake became the first player in major league history to play for five different teams in the same season. A number of players before him had played for four teams, but he set the record when he appeared with the Minnesota Twins on August 4th. He had begun the season with the Brewers and later played for the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Toronto Blue Jays before taking the mound for Minnesota. Between all the moves, he went 1-1, 5.29 in 44 games. His voyage around the majors continued after the season, as on November 1st he was claimed off waivers from the Twins by the Tampa Bay Rays, then on November 26th, it was the Blue Jays' turn to claim him. On January 4, 2019, the Rays purchased him from the Jays, but on January 18th he was designated for assignment when the Rays signed Avisail Garcia. However, he accepted an assignment to the minors with the Rays and was soon back in the majors, being called up in late May. After 10 outings, his ERA was 0.71.
Before the 2015 season, one had to go back to Nemo Gaines in 1921 to find a major league player who had attended the Naval Academy. However, Drake was the second Midshipman to make the majors that year, as Mitch Harris had preceded him by a few weeks.
- Most teams played for in one season: 5
- Anthony Castrovince: "'Life on the road' has deeper meaning for Drake: Journeyman reliever sets MLB record by joining fifth team this season", mlb.com, August 8, 2018.