Mike Olt is One of the Best Hitting Prospects in the Minors

Sunday July 22nd, 2012

Sam Evans:  Rangers’ prospect Mike Olt is seemingly blocked in Texas. However, with his MLB-ready power bat, he’ll force Texas to either start him or trade him in the next year. Olt has tremendous raw power and a sweet swing that help make him one of the most advanced hitters in the minor leagues. It won’t be long before Mike Olt has established himself as a premier power hitter in the majors.

Mike Olt was born in New Haven, Connecticut, which isn’t exactly a baseball hotspot. At Branford High School, Olt hit .475 his senior year, and set a school record for single-season hits. Coming out of high school, Olt was undrafted so he took a scholarship to the University of Connecticut. In his first season with the Huskies, Olt struggled at third base, but was a monster at the plate. In fifty-four games, Olt hit .318 with a .577 slugging percentage. As a sophomore, Olt started to battle some injuries, and as a result, he came back to down to earth a little. He continued to struggle with his defense at third base. In his junior season at UCONN, Olt hit .318 with a .659 slugging percentage, and became the UConn career home run leader. Olt was drafted by the Rangers with the 49th overall pick in the 2010 MLB Amateur draft.

In 2010, Olt played in sixty-nine games at Low-A Spokane in the Northwest League. He continued to rake like he did in college, hitting .293 with a .390 OBP. However, in 2011, Olt took a step backwards. Hampered by a collarbone injury for most of the season, Olt only played in seventy-three games. He spent most of his time at High-A Myrtle Beach, where he hit .267/.387/.584. That’s two of the last three years, Olt has been held back by injuries. Hopefully, these injuries don’t continue to plague him for the rest of his career. Heading into 2012, Olt was still considered one of the Rangers’ top prospects due to his power bat.

At the plate, Olt has a very advanced approach for any level. As a power hitter, he swings and misses at a very high clip, but he has great plate discipline, which has resulted in a BB% consistently over 11% so far in his year minor league seasons. His pitch recognition is still improving, but it has got a lot better since his days at UConn. In terms of defense, Olt is solid reflexes and a very strong arm at third. He doesn’t cover as much ground as he gets credit for, and sometimes makes routine plays seem harder than they actually are. Still, at worst, Olt would be a league average defensive third baseman.

This year, Olt’s value has skyrocketed in Double-A Frisco. In eighty-three games, Olt is hitting .291 with a .481 OBP and twenty-five homers. Most scouts think that Olt is already prepared to reach the majors this year. Most people see Olt as a .270-.280 hitter with twenty-five homers a year, and slightly above-average defense at third base. I’m not as high on Olt’s defense as some, but I definitely could see him hitting twenty-five homers.

Olt really has nowhere to play on the 2012 Texas Rangers ballclub. Adrian Beltre is one of the best third basemen in the game, and he is due a lot of money all the way through 2016. Olt’s not athletic enough to play in the outfield, so that only leaves first base and designated hitter. At first base, while Mitch Moreland is still out with an injury, the Rangers have been using Michael Young and Mike Napoli. At designated hitter, Texas has been using multiple players, but mainly Young and Napoli. If Olt wants to play this year for the Rangers, he’s going to have to wait for an injury. For many reasons Texas loves Michael Young and Napoli isn’t going anywhere this year. He is a free agent at year’s end, but is expected to re-sign with the club. When Mitch Moreland is healthy again, the Rangers won’t even think about calling up Olt.

The Rangers are looking to make a run for it all this year. They have debatably the best team in baseball, and they are sitting in the driver’s seat of the A.L. West. The Texas organization led by General Manager Jon Daniels, have built the best scouting departments in baseball, and in result, they consistently have one of the top farm systems in the game. However, if Texas acquires an above-average pitcher or outfielder at the trade deadline, they could be the favorites to finally bring a World Series to Texas. In this scenario, Texas would have to give up some of their top prospects. In this scenario, Texas would have to give up some of their top prospects. The Texas organization led by General Manager Jon Daniels, have built one of the best scouting departments in baseball, and in result, they consistently have some of the top prospects in baseball. Trading away a few of their elite prospects wouldn’t leave them as devastated as it would other franchises.

The Rangers’ top prospect, and perhaps the best prospect in baseball Jurickson Profar isn’t going anywhere. Personally, I think the Rangers would trade Elvis Andrus before they traded Profar. The Rangers have other interesting prospects, but none of them are as highly-regarded as Olt. If the Rangers traded Olt in a creative package, they could probably get Zack Greinke, Matt Garza, or Cole Hamels (unless he decides to sign before the deadline). However, Texas is reportedly unwilling to trade Olt for a rental. While this is probably smart because they don’t want Olt to leave and become a star with another team, at some point you have to make sacrifices. The Rangers have a chance to win it all this year, and that doesn’t happen to teams very often. Texas might want to reconsider leaving Olt out of any deal, just because this might be the best chance they get in the next five years to win a World Series.

Whether the Rangers trade Olt or not, he needs to find a place to play every day in the majors in 2013. Texas is a very smart franchise, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they made sure Olt got the playing time he needs at the majors next year. Olt doesn’t need to play in the majors this year, but with Texas, he will have little to no chance. Overall, Olt is probably going to be an above-average third baseman in the coming years, no matter what ballpark he is playing in.

***Today’s feature was prepared by Sam Evans, Baseball Writer.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter. (@RJA206)***

 

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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

Posted on July 22, 2012, in On the Verge: MLB Prospects and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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