The SF Giants faced off against a familiar face over the weekend, who has carved out a nice role for the Miami Marlins. Steven Okert signed a minors pact with the Marlins last offseason and that is a deal that has paid dividends for both team and player.
Former SF Giants left-handed reliever is thriving with new club
Okert was originally drafted by the Giants in the fourth round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. Interestingly, it was the third time that the Okert had been drafted. The previous two times were by the Milwaukee Brewers.
The 30-year-old southpaw came up exclusively as a reliever and moved relatively quickly up the minor-league ladder, reaching Triple-A by the 2015 season. He was promoted to the Giants roster in the following season where he posted a 3.21 ERA with 14 strikeouts against four walks in 16 appearances as a rookie.
It seemed as if Okert had a future as a leverage reliever, especially as Sergio Romo, Javier López, and Santiago Casilla departed following the 2016 season.
However, the lefty never got a real extended look with the Giants. Across three seasons with San Francisco, Okert registered a 4.28 ERA in 48.1 total innings. He bounced back and fourth between the major league roster and Triple-A during that time as he was unable to latch onto a leverage bullpen role.
In nine minor league seasons, the veteran reliever posted a 4.26 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, and a 3.50 SO/W ratio. He latched on with the Marlins prior to the 2021 season and has seemingly found a home in Miami's bullpen.
Okert posted a 2.76 ERA in 36 inninigs last year to go along with two scoreless outings against the Giants over this past weekend. Since joining Miami, he has seen his fastball velocity trend up by a tick as well as a more streamlined repertoire.
With the Giants, Okert primarily flashed a fastball-slider mix that he paired with an occasional cutter and chanegup. However, he has removed the cutter and changeup from his repertoire and has benefitted from a more simplified approach.
Development is never linear in baseball and it did not work out for Okert in San Francisco. Though, that could be a product of limited chances, but he has excelled since joining the Marlins prior to the 2021 season.