July 9, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; USA third baseman Mike Olt (20) walks on the field before the start of the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE
Texas Rangers Promote Third Base Prospect Mike Olt
The American League Western Division gets another interesting rookie to go along with Oakland's Dan Straily: Texas Rangers third baseman Mike Olt has been promoted to the major league roster from Double-A Frisco, skipping Triple-A. The Rangers already have an excellent third baseman with veteran Adrian Beltre, but Texas manager Ron Washington will find ways to get Olt into the lineup. He's too good to rot on the bench.
Olt was drafted in the supplemental first round in 2010 from the University of Connecticut. A broken collarbone limited him to 69 games for High-A Myrtle Beach last year, but he performed well (.267/.387/.504 with 14 homers in 240 at-bats). Moved up to Double-A this spring, he's hit .288/.398/.579 with 28 homers, 61 walks, and 101 strikeouts in 354 at-bats for Frisco in the Texas League.
Power is Olt's calling card as a hitter. He has excellent bat speed and projects 25-homer power in the majors. On the negative side, he has some issues with off-speed pitches at times, and he'll probably always be vulnerable to strikeouts. However, he has a very good eye and draws plenty of walks, which should keep his OBP at reasonable levels even when his batting average slips.
Olt is also a very skilled defender at third base, featuring a strong and accurate throwing arm, soft hands, and (despite lack of running speed) impressive range and instincts. Some scouts think he could win Gold Gloves eventually, and virtually everyone rates his glove as at least above average. The Rangers gave him some playing time at first base and right field in Double-A to increase his versatility, but that's more of a reflection of Adrian Beltre's presence than any flaw with Olt at the hot corner.
Skipping Triple-A is usually something of a risk, and Olt's strikeout tendencies may be an issue in the short run. In the big picture, he's one of the best third base prospects in baseball and should have a long and productive career, profiling as a slugger with plus power, good OBP skills, and strong defense. I had him as a Grade B pre-season, but he's done enough to move up to Grade B+.