Last night the Oakland Athletics promoted first baseman/outfielder Matt Olson to the major league roster. Let’s take a quick look.
Olson was drafted by Oakland in the compensation round of the 2012 draft from high school in Lilburn, Georgia. He’s been among their better prospects ever since, showing strong power from the left side as well as a high walk rate. He hit .249/.388/.438 with 17 homers and 105 walks in 2015 in Double-A, then .235/.335/.422 with 17 homers and 71 walks for Triple-A Nashville in 2016. He appeared briefly in the majors last year, going just 2-for-21 but with a double and seven walks.
Olson ranked eighth on the 2017 Oakland Athletics pre-season prospects list with the following comment:
8) Matt Olson, 1B-OF, Grade B-: Age 22, hit .235/.335/.422 with 34 doubles, 17 homers, 71 walks, 132 strikeouts in 464 at-bats in Triple-A; stock down somewhat after he got off to a slow start in ’16 but he was hotter down the stretch and slugged .475 with .356 OBP in second half of season; still young; power/patience hitter, struggles against lefties but can handle right-handers; at this point projects as productive platoon bat rather than a star but that still has value. ETA 2018.
He was 11-for-61 (.217) with two homers, eight walks, and 15 strikeouts for Nashville before his promotion.
Olson’s profile hasn’t changed for 2017. He is not going to hit for high averages, and he has particular problems with left-handed pitching. On the positive side he is a patient hitter and will draw walks, and he’ll show substantial power against right-handed pitching. His glove is nothing special in the outfield, but he has developed into an above-average defensive first baseman, very reliable and mobile with a good throwing arm. He can also play third base in a pinch.
There was hope a few years ago that Olson could develop into a star, but instead he’s settled in with a “good role player” projection.