Prospect Countdown #3 – Mike Olt
Adrian Beltre is one of the best third basemen in all of baseball. That much we know. The Texas Rangers are very fortunate to have such a strong infield, and Beltre is a huge part of that. When Texas signed Adrian before the 2011 season, many Ranger fans thought it was unnecessary because Texas already had a third baseman. Texas actually didn’t have a third baseman; they had a DH that stood at third.
Fast forward to now and Texas actually has a good problem. The Rangers have Adrian Beltre under contract for at least another 4 years, and they also have one of the best third base prospects in all of baseball. Mike Olt was drafted in 2010 out of the University of Connecticut. He was not ranked as one of the top 5 or 10 prospects in the draft. He wasn’t even the Rangers’ first pick of that draft.
Teams knew Mike Olt could be a very good defender at third, but some questioned his bat. Olt was prone to the strikeout in college, and he still is. He may never be a high average hitter, but he does hit for power. As a corner infielder, few players can live on their defense alone. Teams may be willing to sacrifice a little offense from some of the “premium” defensive positions like short stop or catcher, but third basemen are expected to hit.
That is exactly what Mike Olt has done since he got to Texas. We started hearing the rave reviews of Olt during his first spring training. Jason Parks, who runs texasfarmreview.com, was singing the praises of Olt early in camp. (On a side note, if you are even mildly interested in the Texas farm system, texasfarmreview.com is an awesome resource.) Olt continued to hit, while maintaining his premium defense at the hot corner.
Olt put up wonderful offensive numbers at every level. Despite missing time in 2011 with a broken collar bone, he was still in the very top of his league in several offensive categories. Olt also participated in the Arizona Fall League which features some of the top prospects in all of baseball. Despite playing in a league with star prospects like Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado and Mike Trout, Mike Olt found a way to stand out. He led the AFL with 13 HR in just 27 games.
Olt has already put himself on the prospect map. There are a multitude of good sites who release their own prospect rankings. Chris St. John was kind enough to compile the results from 14 of the best prospect ranking lists. Mike Olt comes in as the #62 prospect in all of baseball.
There is talk of trying Olt at first base or in the outfield because of Adrian Beltre. While Olt is probably athletic enough to handle left field or first base, it really diminishes his value by moving him off of third base. His defense and power make him a very valuable third baseman, but at first where the offensive standard is higher, Olt might not stand out as much. Olt may very well never play an inning at third base for the Texas Rangers, but he can be a good trade piece. There is almost no doubt Olt will be ready to be a major league third basemen before Beltre’s contract is up, so Texas has to assess the best way to maximize Olt’s value. Prospects are baseball currency, and with Mike Olt the Texas Rangers have found a nice chunk of change.