The Chicago Cubs would be perfectly happy if they went into the 2014 season with their platoon of Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy holding down the fort at 3rd base. However, in a perfect world, 25-year-old power hitting prospect Mike Olt would show enough progress to force the Cubs to make him the starter at 3B this season. That is exactly what Olt is doing.
Olt showed incredible promise in 2012 with the Texas Rangers, hitting .288/.398/.579 at the double-A level, while playing very well defensively at 3rd base. Heading into 2013, Olt’s power, plate discipline and impressive defense at 3B had him considered by most to be a top 30 prospect in all of baseball. Unfortunately, an offseason concussion led to vision problems that he struggled with throughout the 2013 season. He was awful last year, which made his value plummet quickly. The Cubs sensed a buy-low opportunity, as they had him included in an impressive package that they received from the Rangers in the Matt Garza trade last July.
Heading into Spring Training this year, Olt insisted that his vision issues were behind him. So far so good, as Olt is hitting .333 in 21 at-bats, including three homeruns. Obviously, it is a small sample size, but the numbers do not tell the entire story. Olt looks like he is seeing the ball very well, and for right now, we should take him for his word and move on as if the vision issues are behind him.
With an eye on the future, it would be huge for the Cubs if Olt can breakout this season. Their minor league system is loaded with talented prospects on the cusp of reaching the big leagues, and while the near term outlook on the team is bleak, the future is looking very bright. A healthy Olt slugging homeruns into the bleachers at Wrigley would give Cubs’ fans something to cheer about as they wait for guys like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant to arrive.
If Olt can establish himself as a big league regular before the prospects arrive, that gives the Cubs just one more piece to the puzzle and one less thing to worry about. Giving him this shot to establish himself as the everyday 3rd baseman out of Spring Training seems like an obvious call.
Chicago Cubs Spring Training: Mike Olt’s 2-HR Game Helps Make Case for Roster Spot
Chicago Cubs 2014 Spring Training Profile: Mike Olt
Mike Olt Hammering His Way to Starting Spot for Chicago Cubs