Checking in with Ross Ohlendorf


When we heard that Ross Ohlendorf had been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates as a cog in the Nady/Marte trade, I found myself a bit disappointed. Sure, he was a disappointment as a reliever in the majors, but he was finding some level of success as a starter at Scranton. With the Yankees pitching woes at the time, I thought that maybe he could pull a few spot starts later in the season. Alas, it was not meant to be. He’s with Pittsbugh now, starting for their AAA Indianapolis team. He’s tossed 41.2 innings since the trade, all as a starter, and has struck out 35 to just eight walks. His ERA sits at 3.24. This past Sunday, he pitched eight innings, allowing just one run while striking out six and walking one. He’d tossed eight innings of no-run ball on August 13.

The Princeton Packet, hometown newspaper of Ohlie’s alma mater, caught up with the alum to see how things are going in Hoosier country.

“I would prefer to start,” said Ohlendorf, who went back to finish his coursework and graduated from Princeton in 2005. “Before the draft, I think there was a little discussion about whether I should be a reliever. I relieved some in Cape Cod the year before. I certainly am looking forward to hopefully having the opportunity to be a starter.”

“I do feel like I’ve been getting used to starting again. I need to get back to using my change-up more. I was able to do that. Overall, I’m definitely happy with how it’s going. It could be going better, but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.”

He also reminisces about his times with the Yanks, particularly about his above-6.00 ERA as a reliever in the majors.

“I felt I pitched well the majority of the time,” the 6-foot-4 right-hander said. “I had four to five really bad outings. I was able to see that as long as I pitched well, I could get guys out. At the same time, I was able to see things that got me into trouble and what I needed to work on to be able to do consistently better. It’s mainly throwing my off-speed pitches for strikes and locating my fastball and not overthrowing it.”

Checking his game log, that statement checks out. He allowed more than two runs in four appearances, getting hammered against the White Sox, Mets, Orioles, and finally again against the Mets, which was the final nail in his coffin. In his 25 appearances, he held the opponent scoreless 13 times, and allowed just one run six times, three of which were in appearances of more than one inning.

Here’s to hoping Ohlie enjoys a long and fruitful career as a starter for the Pirates. Or at least a better career than Bobby Bradley, Sean Burnett, John VanBenschoten, Brian Bullington, Brad Lincoln, etc., etc., etc.

Categories : Pitching
  • radnom

    I liked Ohledorf as well. I thought his pitches were such that it would be touch for him to be a good starter, but I really expected (hoped) he would be a force out of the bullpen as early as this year. Not that I am unhappy with the deal he was included in, but hopefully he does well.

  • jsbrendog

    me three as well liked him (madd of english skillz yo) and was kinda disappointed when it was him and not kontos and coke (i think) . i thought ohlendorf couldve had a successful career as a starter here with some work and seasoning and was disappoitned to see him as releiver first and traded second

  • Frank B.

    he was another of a long line of over-hyped prospects who is nothing more than a AAAA type pitcher who had a 95 mph fastball and very little command. Yanks did well in trading him when they did. That said, I still hope he can put it together but time is running out for him.

    • pat

      who else is in the line of over hyped prospects?

      • Frank B.

        Tyler Clippard, Steven White, Jeff Karstans, Ruben Rivera, Alan Horne, Drew Henson, Willy Mo Pena, Jeff Marquez… just off the the top of my head… all less than advertised.

        • pat

          I must not get the newsletter that hypes and advertises these yankees prospects. Rueben rivera was signed like 18 yrs ago. You’re seriously still upset about that? Come on dude karstens horne and tclip?? These people were never hyped prospects just AAA filler who happened to be called into service due to injuries the past few years. Wily Mo u can make a case for bc he signed a record bonus but u can argue his development was stunted by flying through minor league levels. Granted they’re all pretty much failed prospects but like 95% of the people in monor leagues enver amount to anything.

          • pat


            • Frank B.

              Tell me you weren’t psyched on what we were hearing about Horne, TClip, Marquez, Henson et al when they were entering critical seasons of their respective careers, only to get let down… why? cause we were led to believe these guys were the next great Yankees. The Yanks do a nice job of building up their prospects. Heck, posters on this site are GA GA over many of the minor leaguers we have now.

              Maybe there is no newsletter, you’re right, but maybe us as Yankee fans are guilty of the over-hype originally started by the club.

              • whozat

                “cause we were led to believe these guys were the next great Yankees.”

                No one EVER said that Clippard or Marquez was one of the “next great Yankees.” At least, not at any point in the last four years. Horne…I’m pretty sure he didn’t even show up on the radar of any fans until last year, and the only people over-hyping him were over-enthusiastic Yankee fans. And he’s been held back by injury. That happens. The guy’s got some good stuff, but he’s got health problems. Was it “over-hype” to say “hey, this guy has some real potential if he can stay healthy and build on his 2007 season”? That’s really all I heard about him.

                Gardner got too much hype in spring training. That’s about the only guy I saw getting too much hype. Ohlendorf has a power sinker and a decent slider. That’s the makings of a late-innings reliever right there. Maybe he’ll get there, maybe he won’t. But I don’t think it was over-hype to say “Ohlendorf has really good hard stuff, and we think he can help us,” which is all I ever heard the team — and rational fans — say about him.

                • Brad K

                  This site is the king of over hyped minor, and I do mean minor, league talent. In fact there is no other Yankee blog site that is as blinded, and misled, as this site when it comes to prospects. My favorite part of the discussion is how defensive posters here get when this “wisdom” is challenged.

                • ChrisS

                  I don’t know of another Yankee blog that goes as in-depth with the minor leagues. So because this site focuses a lot on minor leaguers, they’re guilty of over-hyping prospects?

                  Austin Jackson is the best position prospect the Yankees have and RAB has consistently projected his ceiling as Mike Cameron; a slightly better than league average hitter and a good defensive centerfielder.

                  Wow. How dare they make me think he’s the next Willie Mays.

                  Don’t confuse irrational commentators with “the site”.

                • pat

                  HAHAHAHAHA giving a nightly recap of the milb games and trying to project them into big league translations makes us all blinded and misled?? Then why are you here is everybody is so stupid?

              • pat

                I just take issue with the whole “overhyped by the club thing”. People use that line all the time from posters to people who are supposed to be credible writers (aka lupica that midget bastard). I dont know where the hype comes from that is supposed to be generated by the team. Ive never seen a cashman press conference where he is like “yo alan horne is the next nolan ryan”. I think it comes from the old regime that traded away mad prospects and now when cash doesnt want to trade one all of a sudden theyre labeled “untouchable” and the hype begins.
                And I think we the posters are damn justified in being excited for some of the kids we have coming up.

              • tommiesmithjohncarlos

                T-Clip was hyped up quite a bit.

                Maybe not here, per se, but he had some boosters selling him pretty hardcore last year.

                • ChrisS

                  He may have been talked about with high regards by Yankee fans, but he never made the BA top 100 and never had real serious steam.

                  This is interesting to look back on.

                • tommiesmithjohncarlos

                  Link don’t work.

                • ChrisS
                • tommiesmithjohncarlos

                  Thanks… that’s funny.

                  Mike = Negrodamus.

        • ChrisS

          Not even your hindsight is 20/20. Just because there’s talk about a prospect doesn’t mean they’re gonna be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Developing a capable 4th starter or league average positional player is pretty damn good. Just because you might hear about a player and think that, ZOMG! He’s the answer doesn’t mean that a prospect is over-hyped.

          I think the jury is still out on Karstans (though the BB:K ratio is scary) and he was never a much of a prospect other than a 5th starter. Wily Mo Pena played a grand total of 132 games for the Yankees before he was traded and was never projected to be much more than a one-trick pony and a back-up OFer even at 20. Drew Henson, a high school hitter, was all potential. Sometimes those picks pan out, sometimes they don’t. Because he was a high profile QB prospect as well, he got a lot of attention (that .846 OPS as a 19 yo in A didn’t hurt, lotta Ks though).

          As for Clippard, anytime a well recruited pitcher strikes out more than a batter an inning and walks more than three times as fewer hitters throughout his minor league career, he’s going to generate some talk. And he’s still only 23. He might not be an ace, but I don’t think anyone was projecting him to be, most projected his ceiling to be a 3/4th starter. As for Horne, Marquez and White, they were all guys that moved around a top-30/40 list based on their previous season. Nobody called these guys world beaters.

          Legitimate blue chippers are pretty hard to mistake.

          Guys that got Yankee fans excited and missed? Off hand, Ruben Rivera and Brandon Claussen. But both were the top prospects in an average-to-below average farm system. Claussen didn’t have much mojo outside of the Yankee organization other than he was a lefty. Claussen also had TJS, which may have hindered his development a touch, hmmm?

          As for Rivera, oh Ruben. He went from being 2nd to A-Rod in the BA top 100 in 1995 to out of baseball by 2003. But that was really because Rivera had a ton of power at a young age, scary power. He had a great season in 1994, but he struck out a ton and as soon as his OPS started dipping as he progressed, he started falling off the charts as a prospect.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos

            Agreed. I think people confuse hype and discussion way too much. The fact that guys are talked about makes them “hyped” almost by default, but I think most of us take a middle view most of the time. Even in the days of Claussen and Rivera, we all know that some will work out, some won’t, but you’ve got to keep moving them through the system and get them up to the big club to really see what sticks.

          • Andy In Sunny Daytona

            So I better not count on Melvin Croussett?

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos

              Should I put my Lyle Mouton jersey back in storage?

          • jsbrendog

            BRIEN TAYLOR!!!!! the poster boy for the early 90′s yankees woes

            • pat

              ug the brien taylor reference. He was having a fine minor league career until a freak accident in a barfight completely destroyed his shoulder and he was never the same. I mean how many people rip apart their shoulder in a drunk bar fight? i’ve seen broken noses jaws eye sockets but not a complete tear of all the shoulder ligaments.

            • ChrisS

              Brien Taylor was a highly regarded draft pick, but he wasn’t an overhyped prospect. The Yankees took a huge chance on a lefty with a million dollar arm and a ten cent head. He lived up to his billing as a 20 year old in high A (187K:67BB, 167 IP, 121 hits, 2.57 ERA/1.16 WHIP). Struggled a bit in AA as a 21 year old, but still voted the best pitching prospect in the Eastern League by the managers. He has serious potential and then ruined his career by tearing his labrum in a bar fight. Disappointing, yes. Overrated and overhyped, not really.

              And to get the thread back on track, I’m not sure how Brien Taylor was over-hyped by the fellers at River Ave. Blues.

              • tommiesmithjohncarlos

                True. Taylor was legit. I have long dreamed about how awesome it would have been for him to never go to that bar that night.


    I always was of the school of thought that Rockin Ross was a Mike Pelfrey type. That his success in the majors would come with a little of patience. Although Ross wasn’t quite the prospect pelfrey was , I always drew similarities bec of their stuff and repertoire

    • pat

      I agree I think he has good natural ability but I think the transition to the bullpen caused him to overthrow to get his usual 93 or 94 mph fastball up to 96 or 97 which caused his location to suffer.

  • bill

    I like Nady and Marte too much, even though the latter hasnt pitched very well with the Yanks. I didnt have the patience to wait for Ohlendorf and watch him give up bombs to Carlos Delgado that reached the back of the bleachers (he reignited his season and possibly his career after that 9 RBI debacle). I think Nady and Marte will be key pieces for years to come in the Yanks quest for #27 and more.

    • Manimal

      he got Torre’d. With some rest he will do better.

      • bill

        Yeah, all this talk that the Yanks would be better off with Torre instead of Girardi is total bullshit. I love Torre, but if he was the manager Jose Veras wouldve pitched 80 innings already.

        • jsbrendog

          and chris britton still wouldn’t’ve pitched any

          • bill

            I dont like Britton. Whenever he gets a chance to pitch it seems he gives up a run. He only throws in the mid 80′s with the fastball, which isnt nearly as high as some of our other bullpen guys. I really dont understand the infatuation Yankee fans have with Britton. I would really like to see how well he pitches if he pitched the big innings of big games. Not so well

            • jsbrendog

              i think the infatuation is we got him coming off a good year from baltimore for jaret wright if i rememebr correctly and a relief pitcher obtained from a team after having a good year you would think would go into the pen, but he never made it above aaa…..


              • bill

                Okay, I agree with you that the Yanks shouldve pitched him in 06 after they got him, but that was then, this is now. Now, I see a pitcher that throws mid 80′s fastballs and gives up runs everytime he pitches in garbage time. If he cant pitch effectively in mop-up situations, how do you expect him to pitch well in late inning situations? If you put him in the set up role for 5 days the Yanks would probably lose 5 games in the standings over that stretch. You cant have someone throwing 85 mph in the 8th inning and expect to win games. Why do you think Baltimore traded him for Jaret Wright of all people? They knew he couldnt do it again.

    • ChrisS

      Meh, I wasn’t a fan of the trade, but whatever …

      Marte is a reliever and, outside of Mo, there are very few I would trust to be good year to year. They’re historically hit & miss and nothing screams wasted money more than a $6 million dollar reliever with a 4.50+ era. Nady is having a pretty incredible career year, if he hits this well or reasonably close to it for another 3 years, I will be seriously impressed and my opinion will change.

      My problem is that Nady’s defense is already suspect and he’s probably going to regress severely with the bat. But he’s cheap and the Yankees aren’t hamstrung by a contract. My problem is that the Yankees probably gave up maybe two useful pitchers for ’09 and ’10 and possibly a legit star OFer in exchange for a middle reliever and maybe 3-4 years of slightly above average offense from a corner OFer with poor defense.

      As for Ohlendorf, he mentions that he get’s to use his change again as starter. He could have been handcuffed as a reliever and needs his change to set up his heat. Who knows.

      • bill

        Nady has played pretty good defense since he got here (better than Damon and Abreu for sure) and Marte will eventually pitch well here (he did in Baltimore). The only person that the Yanks gave up that has potential is Tabata, and he is a few years away from realizing his potential, and the Yanks needed a righty hitting OFer and a lefty reliever NOW. Tabata’s stock had dropped drastically anyway. The other guys the Yanks gave up are marginal talents. I’m a big fan of the trade.

        • ChrisS

          “needing players NOW” is something that the Yankees have been very good at doing for the last 8 years. It hasn’t panned out for them yet, I don’t expect that philosophy to work in the future. Especially when Nady is sucking in a few years or not OPSing .850+ and the call will sound to that the Yankees need this new guy right NOW.

          They got rid of their second best positional prospect when his value was the lowest and that’s good? If you have some extra cash, I’d love to help you in the stock market. I don’t think they need a lefty reliever at all.

          • bill

            Really, so Billy Traber will get the job done? I’m glad you have confidence in him, cuz I certainly do not. You dont know what youre talking about, Jesus Montero passed Tabata as a positional prospect this season, and Tabata’s stock dropped so much the Yanks decided they didnt need him. Nady is a late bloomer (Paul O’neil ring a bell?) that fits into their future outfield plans along with AJax. And you said these kind of moves havent panned out for the Yamks lately, give me one move in which the Yanks traded a prospect that became a star. And dont give me Dioner Navarro. The reason the Yanks havent won in 7 years is because Cashman has brought a bunch of bum pitchers here. Do you know that in the last four years Yanks starters have averaged 5 innings and 4 runs in the playoffs?

            • ChrisS

              I don’t even know where to begin with this post.

              The Yankees have been on a neverending cycle of grabbing the next hottest thing and then having to do the same thing the next year. They haven’t been trading prospects since Navarro because they didn’t have any. They’ve been throwing money at a problem in hopes of fixing it.

              Pitching wins playoffs. And now that Cashman has some solid pitching prospects, everyone wants him to dump them for 30-year OFers having fluke years.

              It’s not Tabata for Nady, the problem I have with the trade is that they traded their 2nd best prospect at his lowest value for a OFer at his highest value. That’s bad trading. For every Paul O’Neill there’s 25 guys that peaked at 28 and never looked back.

              • bill

                Okay, you didnt make any sense. We didnt trade any good pitching prospects, something we have surplus of. The reason you trade something in surplus is because not all pitching prospects will be used or will pan out. And the reason you trade a prospect when his value is down is because when his value is up you want to keep him. Its simple. So according to you, we shouldve traded Austin Jackson or Jesus Montero because their value is up. Sheesh!

  • Jamal G.

    Replay to start Thursday (PeteAbe w/ the tip):

    • pat


    • tommiesmithjohncarlos


      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        LOUD NOISES!!!

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos

          You hear that, Ed? BEARS.
          Now you’re putting the whole station in jeopardy.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        My bad TSJC, I should have known better.

        “Pins fall out”

  • http://mishandling godfather

    i’d much rather have ohlendorf than rasner, and even ian…they miscast the guy and a solid arm until it was too late; nady, i like a lot, and marte, too

  • Hitman

    Ollie had great stuff but it was never meant to be. He’s old for a rookie and guys like Hughes and Kennedy will take precedent over him. Heck their jobs may not even be all that safe if they don’t do well in 2009.