Oliver Drake on making the majors and hearing from his Navy friends

After pitching in 176 games and 564 innings since 2008 on the O’s farm, right-hander Oliver Drake is enjoying his first few days on the Orioles’ big league roster.

Drake has been with the O’s so long that he made his pro debut in Bluefield in 2008, when that club was the Orioles’ Rookie-level Appalachian League affiliate. The O’s have not had a team there since the 2010 season. Drake spent four years at Double-A Bowie from 2011-2014 before pitching at Triple-A this year.

When he got the call to the majors Saturday, he sure was ready, pitching three scoreless innings on 37 pitches that night in Miami. He pitched the ninth through the 11th innings in what was then a scoreless game.

Drake-Black-Spring.jpgIs it starting to sink in and is he now starting to settle in as a major leaguer?

“Starting to,” he said this morning in the O’s clubhouse. “Things have gone pretty quick. Still have family and friends coming in to catch a game. Starting to settle in a bit. It was awesome (to pitch Saturday). To finally be able to pitch in a major league game was simply awesome.”

Drake pitched two years at the Naval Academy in Annapolis and the Orioles drafted him in round 43 in 2008. They don’t even have that round anymore.

Drake has heard from so many people since his callup, but he said he is particularly touched to have heard from so many from his Navy days.

“Obviously, the family has been really important. Lot of friends, including some friends I haven’t talked to much recently. I’ve heard from friends from the Naval Academy that reached out,” Drake said. “Some not just from the United States, but I’ve been getting text messages from all over the globe. So cool they are keeping tabs on me.

“It was real cool also hearing from Mitch Harris from the Cardinals. He and I got drafted together out of Navy. He graduated and served and made it up to the majors about a month ago.”

On Saturday, Drake showed off that solid split-finger fastball, a pitch that has been a key for him as he slowly made his way toward Baltimore. He throws it both early in the count to get ahead of the hitter and later in the count as a chase and/or putaway pitch.

“It’s been a huge pitch for me. I throw a lot of them and it’s a good compliment to my fastball,” he said.

This day - Memorial Day - holds special meaning for Drake from his time in Annapolis.

“It does. But it has a lot of meaning to a lot of people in this country. It’s important to remember those that served and made the ultimate sacrifice for the country. It is a special day for everyone,” Drake said.

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