You’re probably familiar with the name Mike Olt by now. We have just passed the trade deadline, and his name was included in nearly every MLB trade rumor that the Texas Rangers were a part of for the entire month of July, it seemed. Now, Olt is no longer a power-hitting prospect that may get moved to another team in 2012. Instead, Olt is the newest member of the Texas Rangers major league team, having been called up from Double-A Frisco to replace Brandon Snyder.
Olt will likely fill the same position that Snyder did, which is a back-up third baseman, first baseman, and outfielder, as well as a quality bat to come off the bench late in games if necessary. However, the two players differ in that Snyder could essentially only hit left-handed pitching (career .452 OPS vs. RHP, .905 vs. LHP), while Olt has had fairly consistent production regardless of a pitcher’s handedness (.956 OPS vs. RHP this year, 1.020 vs. LHP). Because of Olt’s additional ability to hit right-handed pitching, it seems possible, if not likely, that he will get an opportunity to see even more playing time than Snyder did. This could mean cutting into some of the at-bats that Michael Young (.593 OPS vs. RHP this year) is currently receiving.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said that Olt was promoted to ”strengthen the bench, and put the best club on the field”. After the Rangers sluggish play in July, a spark was needed to try to get Texas moving in the right direction again. That spark could come from the trades for Geovany Soto and Ryan Dempster, or from a walk-off extra-innings win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night, or it could come from Olt being a shot in the arm on a veteran team.
Besides looking to improve the team, Olt has earned the promotion. He blasted home run number 28 of the season for Double-A Frisco on Wednesday night. The Rangers have discussed wanting to strengthen their bench for much of the season, and now they are looking to fill that void from within the organization. Olt will have the entire month of August to prove that he can be that solution. If he does, he will be eligible to be on the playoff roster. If he doesn’t, the Rangers will have time to try to find the answer via a waiver trade before the August 31st deadline.
No matter the intentions or the results, the call-up of Mike Olt is an exciting day for the 23-year old, as well as the entire Texas franchise. It proves that they protected him from the trade market for a reason. It also demonstrates to the rest of the Rangers farm system that quality performance is rewarded. It may even send a bit of a message to some veterans on the team that complacency is not an option. Olt is no Mike Trout, here to save the Rangers season. He is going to strike out a lot at the big league level, but he will also probably have a lot of big hits. In the role he is being asked to fill for the defending American League champions, he doesn’t have to be an MVP, but he can still make a big difference.
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