August 2, 2012
The situation: Coming off their most dramatic win of the season in comeback fashion against the division-rival Angels, the Rangers made a move to bolster their offense by calling up Mike Olt from Double-A Frisco. In 95 Texas League games, Olt was hitting .288/.398/.579 with 28 home runs in 354 at-bats.>
Background: The 49th overall pick in the 2010 draft out of the University of Connecticut, Olt has spent his two years as a pro leaving scouts wondering why he wasn't selected higher. He was in the midst of a breakout year in 2011 during his full-season debut at High-A Myrtle Beach before a broken collarbone cost him the second half of the season. Once healthy again, Olt's stock really exploded when he posted a .349/.433/.764 slash line in the Arizona Fall League while leading the circuit in both home runs (13) and RBIs (43) in just 27 games. He earned a trip to the Futures Game this year, and there were some indications that a call-up was looming when he began to see some playing time at first base and right field during the month of July.
What he can do: Olt has some of the best "secondary" skills in all of the minor leagues. His fantastic plate discipline has led to 61 walks this season, and he has homered every 12.6 at-bats. He does not project to be a high-average hitter, however, and has struck out 253 times in 237 career minor league games. He's a tremendous defensive third baseman with great reactions, soft hands and a plus arm. His arm will rarely be on display due to the presence of Adrian Beltre at the hot corner, but Olt also has looked solid with the glove at both first base and in the outfield. He's a below-average runner with just 10 career stolen bases in the minors, six of which came during his pro debut in the Northwest League.
Immediate big league future: Olt likely won't get everyday playing time immediately. Initially, he'll start against left-handers at first base, right field or designated hitter, but he'll earn spot time against right-handers, with the opportunity for more if his play warrants it. So while the bad news is that he won't get many at-bats, the good news is that he does crush southpaws, sporting a 1.020 OPS against them in the minors this year. He's a better hitter than Michael Young at this point, but replacing Young in the lineup and shaking up the Rangers' clubhouse could cause problems. So while he should provide some power, he likely won't have the fantasy impact some might hope for unless he forces the Rangers' hand.
Long-term: The Rangers have refused to move Olt in a trade, and they see him as an important part of their future. He'll likely open 2013 with a more permanent role, and therefore makes for a fantastic long-term pickup.