Mike Olt to Cubs: 3 Things You Need to Know About Chicago's New Prospect
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Chicago Cubs have traded pitcher Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers. In return, the Cubs will receive Triple A infielder Mike Olt, Single A pitcher C.J. Edwards and a third player to be named.
With Olt serving as the prize of the deal for Chicago, here's what you need to know about the Cubs' new prospect.
Olt is a 24-year-old third baseman who hits from the right side of the plate. Prior to his tenure in Triple A baseball, he attended the University of Connecticut, earning freshman All-American honors.
Since then, he's appeared in the All-Star Futures Game and quickly made his way up the ranks of Texas' farm system. While he may not be the most recognizable name, the fact that he was dealt for Garza proves that his upside is understood.
As Mike Brown of Yahoo! Sports put it, Olt was good enough to play in the MLB, but had no place to play with Adrian Beltre on the Rangers' main roster.
Olt was rotting in the minors. Adrian Beltre plays 3B already. Matt Garza helps you win a World Series, maybe. Gotta do stuff like this.— Dave Brown (@AnswerDave) July 22, 2013
That's where we start.
1. MLB-Ready Infielder
There's no guarantee that the Cubs will bring Olt onto their main roster in the near future. Even with his experience in Triple A, Olt does have strides to make before he can become the player that some expect him to be.
The truth of the matter is, Chicago has no reason to wait.
Olt is an MLB-ready infielder who could provide a steady dose of production on the hot corner. He's struggled in Triple A play in 2013, but there is a direct correlation between a decline in production and the eye injury that sent him to the disabled list earlier this season.
If he's able to stay healthy, Olt projects to be a valuable bat in the middle of the lineup.
As it presently stands, Luis Valbuena is the current third baseman for the Cubs. Thus far, he's hit .236 with nine home runs and 31 RBI in 79 games.
At this point, there truly isn't a better alternative, which suggests that Olt could be playing at Wrigley Field sooner rather than later.
2. Eye Injury
As previously alluded to, Olt has spent time on the disabled list while battling an eye injury. His vision has been hurt enough for his batting average to drop as low as .211 during the course of the 2013 season.
Regardless of how talented he may be, this type of injury is beyond concerning.
If Olt is able to make a full recovery and avoid recurring issues, the Cubs will be able to move forward with the corners of their infield set. If he's unable to overcome such a devastating ailment, however, there will be a different story to tell.
Keep in mind, this isn't about regaining strength in your knee or shoulder—it's about being able to see properly.
Olt has every tool necessary to succeed at the next level, but as a player who struggles with strikeouts, altered vision is especially detrimental. We're inclined to believe that Chicago wouldn't have executed this trade without having a concrete answer on this subject, but there remains reason for concern.
If all checks out, however, Olt's power is intriguing.
3. Raw Power
If there's one thing that you need to know about Mike Olt, it's that when his bat connects, the ball is going a long distance. While he may have to improve upon his plate vision, the Cubs are a young team that need to add another power bat to their lineup.
That's exactly why they took a chance on Olt.
Working in a lineup with Anthony Rizzo, Olt could do some damage as a power bat that picks up RBI and hits home runs. While his consistency may be of issue early in his career, he's young enough to develop a better eye at the plate.
If nothing else, Olt can serve as Chicago's version of Mark Reynolds.
Seeing as Olt hits for average better than Reynolds, that's an intriguing prospect. Clearly, the Cubs believe in him enough to deal the ace of their pitching staff.
The only question at this point is whether or not he can overcome eye troubles and become the breakout performer on the hot corner that Chicago needs.
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