August 13, 2022

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Otto bests former high school teammate, A's Oller

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Former Concordia Lutheran standouts duel in Oakland opener
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OAKLAND — Nine years ago, Rangers pitcher Glenn Otto and A’s pitcher Adam Oller were teammates at Concordia Lutheran in Tomball, Texas, on a team that made it to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools 5A semifinals.

On Friday night, the two pitchers took the field together again — this time from different dugouts — with Otto making his season debut for the Rangers on the mound and Oller starting for Oakland at the Coliseum.

But Otto, the Rangers’ No. 26 prospect per MLB Pipeline, outdueled his former teammate, logging five innings and allowing just one run on two hits en route to his first big league win, an 8-1 victory over Oakland that saw the Texas offense tag Oller for five runs on five hits, two of them home runs.

Otto said he found out about the scheduled matchup when former staff members at Concordia Lutheran texted him and Oller in a group chat.

“They were always very supportive,” Otto said. “[Head coach Rick] Lynch is no longer with us, but he was looking down smiling, big ol’ grin ear to ear. He was a big part of both of our careers. … Adam’s a great guy. I was able to be in high school with him for one year and it’s been fun watching his journey. It was very cool to get to compete against him tonight.”

That 2013 Concordia Lutheran team also included Pirates phenom Ke’Bryan Hayes and Rays starting pitcher Shane Baz was Class of 2017 at the school. Hayes and Baz were both on the Crusaders team that won the Texas state championship in 2015 after losing in the title game the previous season, during Otto’s senior year.

“Nobody [else] on my [high school] team made it to the big leagues,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward joked before the game. “It’s rare. What a high school team he must have had. When you have one dominant guy, that usually means you’re pretty good, but to have two big leaguers …”

As rare as it may be, it did happen as recently as the 2021 season, when Harvard-Westlake High School (Los Angeles) alumni Lucas Giolito of the White Sox and the Cardinals’ Jack Flaherty faced off at Guaranteed Rate Field. Braves ace Max Fried was also part of that Harvard-Westlake pitching staff.

“It was kind of crazy,” Oller said of Friday’s experience facing Otto. “I saw him in the offseason when we went back to an alumni thing. I hadn’t talked to him a whole lot up until that point. But it was nice seeing him out there and getting the chance to come up. He threw very well. We were kind of talking about hopefully seeing each other. I don’t think it’s very often that you have two guys that went to high school together facing off against each other. It would have been nice if the game had gone a different way. But credit to him. He threw the ball well tonight. Good for him.”

Otto opened the game by retiring the first 11 batters he faced before giving up back-to-back doubles to Sean Murphy and Seth Brown in the fourth inning. Those would be the only hits and only run Otto surrendered in his outing.

Otto made his MLB debut for the Rangers in 2021, after coming to Texas from New York in the Joey Gallo trade, but struggled to a 9.26 ERA over six starts. While he didn’t make the big league squad out of camp, Otto has logged valuable innings in Triple-A to earn a callup to start in place of Jon Gray, who was placed on the injured list Thursday.

Woodward noted that Otto may have even performed well enough in camp to make the big league roster out of Spring Training, but didn’t make the cut initially as a result of the roster construction. Despite the setback, Otto said he tried to just “be where his feet are” and not think about the past or future while he competes, whether it’s with Triple-A Round Rock or the big league club.

Though it’s early and a small sample size, Otto has a shot to stick around with the Rangers even after Gray returns.

“He was just in command from pitch one,” Woodward said of Otto’s start. “He just attacked those guys. He just really really did a really good job of executing. It was just good pitching, honestly. There was composure. He just felt like he looked like he was in control the whole night.”

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