After an incredible 2012 season where he showed elite-level power at double-A, hitting .288/.398/.579, Mike Olt was considered one of the best power-hitting prospects in all of baseball before last season.
Unfortunately, he struggled throughout the entire 2013 season and the Texas Rangers eventually traded him midseason to the Chicago Cubs as part of the Matt Garza deal. Olt still has the potential to become a high-level MLB regular, but at 25-years-old, he must figure it out soon.
After Olt suffered a concussion last offseason, he started having vision issues. Hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports — so imagine doing that when an athlete cannot see as well as they are used to. Olt had troubles with his eyes all of last season, and most believe that led to his severe struggles in 2013. While Olt is the only one who knows for sure, both he and the Cubs feel like those problems have been solved by an allergy medication he is now using.
While Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy were great for the Cubs as a platoon at 3B in 2013, they will surely welcome Olt to the position if he proves that he belongs. As of right now, Valbuena and Murphy are penciled in as the starters to start the season, but a strong Spring for Olt could change that quickly.
Though poor pitch recognition and obvious holes in his swing have always been an issue for Olt, his athleticism, superb defensive skill and power at the plate have always made him an incredibly intriguing player. Entering the 2013 season, Baseball America had Olt ranked as the 22nd-best prospect in all of baseball. Scouts were completely enamored with his ability on the diamond.
Last season was obviously a disappointment, but the team cannot give up on a player with so much promise after only one poor season, especially when the poor season can be explained with something like vision problems.
The entire Cubs organization would love to see Olt have a strong Spring Training and take the 3B position to start the season. He has a ton of upside, and if his eye issues are truly behind him, the Cubs could have a young cornerstone to help build their franchise.