Minor League Focus: Mike Olt

Michael George Olt was born on August 27, 1988 in Branford, Connecticut.

Now at 6’ 2” and 210 lbs, the powerful right hander is slugging his way deep into the Arizona Fall League where he is stationed to sharpen his skills in the off-season.

Olt was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the first round of the June 2010 Amateur Draft out of the University of Connecticut. As the 49th overall pick, Olt came into the minors with high expectations. A third baseman with a good sense for the hot corner, his defensive skills were above average out of college. But what the Texas Rangers really liked was his bat.

In 2010, Olt suited up for short-season Spokane in the Northwest league. In 69 games he batted a hefty .293/.390/.464. He showed good power, hitting 16 doubles, 9 home runs, and plating 43 RBI. However, he also struck out 77 times in just 310 plate appearances.

In 2011, Olt put up almost identical numbers at Class A+ Myrtle Beach. Again, he played 69 games and had 292 plate appearances. Olt hit .267/.387/.504 racking up 15 doubles, 14 home runs, and 42 RBI.

His 2011 campaign earned him one Carolina Player of the Week nod in April, and a Carolina Post Season All Star award in September. But life in the minor leagues never ends, and soon Olt was off to Arizona to begin his campaign in the Arizona Fall League, playing for the Surprise Saguaros.

Here, Olt’s bat has really begun to shine. Designated to the cleanup spot in the lineup, Olt has appeared in 20 games (including The Rising Stars game, starting for the West.) Olt is currently hitting .341/.412/.720 in just 82 at bats and has a staggering OPS of 1.132. He leads the league with 9 home runs and is tied atop the RBI leaderboard at 32. His power steak is one of the big reasons the Saguaros sit atop the entire Arizona League.

So what do all of these numbers mean?

Well, as of now, nothing.

Olt is a long way from being big-league ready. While he is certainly off to a fantastic start, in terms of today and this offseason, it is just a start. There are a lot of possibilities for this youngster in the future with this club; but by the time Mike Olt puts on a Texas Rangers uniform, the entire make up of the team could look quite different.

Currently, I’m of the opinion that Mike Olt looks like the best prospect to possibly challenge Mitch Moreland for his spot on the roster in another few years. And the defensive switch from 3B to 1B would be a smoother transition in the minors. I don’t believe this team is willing to spend $100 million on a marquee name at first base at the risk of being unable to sign a very important core group of players after 2012 and beyond.

Olt has a powerful at bat, but his will be a long rise through the Rangers minor league systems. If he can stay healthy, and continue to grow and adapt as the Rangers will ask him to do, the future is bright for this young first rounder out of Connecticut.

Maybe even brighter for the Rangers.

Mike McGehee

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