2013 Cubs Prospects in Review: Mike Olt

mike-oltThe Cubs acquired Mike Olt from the Rangers on July 22nd. Along with Olt, the Cubs acquired CJ Edwards, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez (PTBNL).

Olt is 6-2, weighs 210 lbs., bats and throws right-handed. The 3rd baseman was the 22nd ranked prospect in baseball entering 2013 by both mlb.com and Baseball America.

He was drafted in the 1st supplemental round in 2010 (49th overall) out of UConn. His brother had or still was playing there. He signed with the Rangers for $717,300.

Performance

.201/.303/.381 in 432 plate appearances (all but 12 of them at AAA). I wish that was all that I had to write.

Like Brett Jackson before him and many others before Brett Jackson, strikeouts are a huge reason for the decline. In many ways, the Cubs acquired a reclamation project in the Matt Garza trade. A project they were more than aware of, but were happy to take the risk and add his potential bat to the organization. It wouldn't be such a bad season if he hit quite well with Iowa, but he did not.

Quite the opposite happened. He was somehow worse. In 152 plate appearances with Iowa he hit shit/shit/shit. In numeric terms that is .168/.276/.275. It was good for a .262 wOBA and 48 wRC+.

Over his full season he struckout in 30% of his plate appearances and walked in 13.2%. My mom told if you can't say something nice about someone, don't say it. Unfortunately, I've already said bad things so I'll find a positive here and it's that the guy can walk. So could Brett Jackson and a lot of the others that have strikeout problems. Sorry, that's just about as nice as I can get in describing Olt's season.

I'll repost this bit I put together back in July.

Player

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

BB

SO

TB

GDP

HBP

Player A

550

465

84

125

27

1

27

77

146

233

10

4

Player B

550

471

88

130

24

10

16

66

149

223

2

7

Player A is Mike Olt and he has more overall power than Player B (Brett Jackson). He takes a few more walks and their strikeouts are within 3 and keep in mind these are minor league stats. Olt hit 55 extra base hits to Jackson's 50. These players are a pretty close match even when you get to fielding.

One is an infielder and the other a centerfielder, but the positional adjustment is the same for both positions. Olt is known as a very good fielder so he probably has the edge on Jackson here who was seen as above average to good in CF.

This doesn't mean Olt is headed for the same type of career. He could still turn out to be better, but Jackson was highly thought of too. The problem with striking out at the rate these two have over their careers is that your just not putting the ball in play enough to hit for a high enough average. You have to make up for it with exceptional walk rates and be exceptional in other areas. Sometimes that's not even enough.

Scouting

I'll post some scouting reports since there's so much information about him. Assume it was written prior to 2013 unless it's otherwise obvious when it was written.

The 49th overall pick in the 2010 draft, Olt raced to Texas in little more than two years despite missing half of the 2011 season after breaking his collarbone in a home-plate collision. He led the Double-A Texas League with 28 homers and a .579 slugging percentage in 2012 before being called up in August. Plantar fasciitis in his left foot kept him out of the lineup for most of September. With plus raw power and a strong hitting approach, Olt is a threat to go deep anytime he steps to the plate. He works deep counts and piles up both walks and strikeouts, so his average will settle in the .260-.270 range. Pitchers have had success exploiting the length in his swing by attacking him with high fastballs, and he continues to work to identify and stay back on breaking balls. Scouts say Olt is a joy to watch defensively, owing to his agility and ability to make throws from any angle. He’s a well below-average runner. Like Profar, Olt has advanced rapidly thanks to his tools, work ethic and mental toughness. He’s blocked in Texas by Adrian Beltre, so a shift to first base or an outfield corner could be in the works. A potential all-star, he could open 2013 in the big league lineup or get a couple of months in Triple-A. — Baseball America

The de facto top prospect prize moved this summer, Olt was once a no-brainer top 50 talent, but struggles at the plate have depressed his value, and the Rangers made him expendable in the deal for Matt Garza. The ceiling is still in the first-division range, with an average hit tool but legit over-the-fence power potential, the kind that is quite appealing given his above-average defensive profile at third base. The downside is a hit tool that might fail to play up to average and could limit the utility of his power, making him an exploitable target of higher-level pitching. I’d put a role 5 on him, with some risk given the questions about the bat-to-ball ability. — Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus at the trade deadline this year.

Olt entered the 2013 season seemingly ready for a big league job, but there was no room on the Rangers' Opening Day roster. Then Olt had problems with blurry vision that caused him to get off to a bad start and miss the entire month of May. He bounced back in June, regaining his power stroke, before being dealt to the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade in July. His hands, range and arm, the last of which being his best defensive tool, all play very well at third, though he's seen time at first and in the outfield as well. Olt may not hit for a really high average, and fans should be prepared for a good amount of strikeouts, but he'll also draw a ton of walks and is a better all-around hitter than many anticipated. The power is legit, too, and it's not a projection. Assuming healthy, he should be ready to hit in Wrigley Field soon. — mlb.com

Olt has received a lot of hype in the past year and has been mentioned in numerous trade rumors. A potential plus defender at the hot corner, his path to third base at the big-league level is currently blocked by veteran Adrian Beltre. Olt has seen time in both right field — where his range would probably be below average — and at first base. His strong arm would be wasted at first base. I asked a talent evaluator if he thought Olt would be an above-average defender elsewhere on the field, right away. “Not necessarily,” the person said. “We feel he can be average at first base or in the outfield now and play higher as he gets more experience out there. He is athletic and has a plus arm, and the footwork, particularly at first base, should come along.”

Olt, 24, slugged 28 home runs in Double-A and has above-average power. His pop impressed the contact I spoke with and he said, “He has easy power. The ball jumps off his bat and has a different sound than many hitters.  The challenge for him offensively will be to cut down on the swing-and-miss and continue being more selective at the plate. We think [ hitting coach] Dave Magadan will be a tremendous influence on Mike and they have already started to work together with some early, positive results.”

Olt isn’t afraid to take walks but he strikes out a lot, which will drag down his batting average. He struggles with pitch recognition at times and his swing can get long. He has a chance to be a .260 hitter with 20 home runs and above-average defense at third base. — Fangraphs

Grade A-: Borderline B+. Bothered by vision problem early, hitting just .205/.310/.388 in Triple-A, still has power, defense, but strikeout rate is getting the best of him at this point. He turns 25 next month, needs a shot soon. Mentioned in trade rumors every 12 seconds. — Sickels

Outlook

Well, if Olt can cut his strikeout rate down to a manageable and poor 25%, he has a real chance to succeed at the MLB level. He won't reach the potential Cubs fans are thinking are there at that rate, but he'd be at the MLB level at least. There's decent reason to think he can do that. Prior to AAA it was below that and even at Iowa it just slightly over 24%. There's also reason to think it's only go get worse when he gets the MLB level.

That's really about all that needs to be written here. It's all about the strikeouts for Olt. Find a way to cut them down while maintaining a good enough walk rate that you can still have a decent OBP.

While Jackson and Olt may be similar, it's worth pointing out that Jackson would have the platoon advantage about twice as often as Olt. Against righties since 2011 (includes all but 310 of minor league plate appearances), he's hit exceptionally well against lefties. You'd expect that. Against righties, he's hit just .239/.337/.453 over 772 plate appearances. He's mashed lefties (.273/.405/.555).

If Olt struggles to reduce the strikeout rate, he could probably be a right-handed pinch hitter and give you plus defense at 3rd. I think he has a future ahead of him. It just probably isn't going to be all that bright of a future.

2013 Cubs Prospect Reviews

aisle424

About aisle424

I used to write lots of things about the Cubs. Now I sometimes write things about the Cubs.

Quantcast