Mike Olt And Prospect Golden Rules

A Golden rule of developing prospects is, “Never move a player off a more valuable defensive position until he proves incapable of playing there at the Major League Level.” This leaves the Texas Rangers in an enviable, but difficult position as they have a 10 win left-side of the infield and both the best third base and shortstop prospects in baseball.

Jurickson Profar is untouchable, but Mike Olt has been discussed in a number of trade rumors. first, he was rumored to the Braves for shortstop Andrelton Simmons. More recently, Olt’s name was thrown as a key piece in a package for Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. This leaves me questioning if the Rangers are working to sell high on the former UConn Husky.

In April, I arrived in Surprise, Arizona at the Rangers minor league complex and stumbled upon a Double-A batting practice session including Olt. While I was impressed by a muscular physique primed for power, the ball did not explode off his barrel like other top power prospects I’ve seen.

Later in the day, a couple of Olt at-bats left him looking lost against Major League pitching. Concerned about a first impression gleaned from the smallest of sample sizes, I began to ask contacts who had seen Olt what they thought. As a third base prospect, Olt was universally praised for a well-rounded skill set buoyed by a plus defensive profile. An “above average regular” was used frequently to describe Olt with offensive projections in the .270 batting average, 25 home run range.

Since then, I’ve perceived a disconnect between the prospect and scouting communities regarding Olt. His .288/.398/.579 line in Double-A has landed him in the prospect pantheon at a time when his own organization has been shopping him around.

From a scouting perspective, Olt has to remain at third base to maintain maximum value. Move him to left field or first base, and his defensive value is negated — Especially in the outfield. This explains Texas’ hesitation to name him the “first baseman of the future”. By doing so, the Rangers devalue their own asset which is never good for business.

For this reason, Olt to New York never made sense as David Wright‘s new contract will allow him to retire a Met.

Between 1999 and 2009, teammate Adrian Beltre accumulated 43.2 wins above replacement behind plus defense at third and slightly above average offensive production. This ranked him 21st amongst all position players in WAR.

Had Beltre been a first baseman during that period, his lack of offense might have led to his being bumped from the starting lineup altogether. Beltre’s wRC+ of 105 would have tied for 29th amongst all first baseman with 3000 plate appearances or more. Remember journeyman Tony Clark? He posted a wRC+ of 105 too.

Olt is similar to the player Beltre was a decade ago in terms triple slash projection and defensive value. And with his propensity for striking out, Olt might produce less offensively. When Mike Moustakas is worth 3.5 wins behind a 90 wRC+ and plus defense, it’s conceivable to rank Olt as a top-12 third baseman entering 2013.

Unfortunately for him, Beltre is currently producing at hall of fame levels. Shift Olt to another position and his risk for exposure is too high. For the Rangers, shopping him at maximum value is the smart move.




Print This Post



Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.

63 Responses to “Mike Olt And Prospect Golden Rules”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Frank Campagnola says:

    Been a proponent of the Yankees trying to land Olt given the A-Rod situation at third, but I’m not sure what the fit would be. I do wonder if they’d be interested in Mason Williams or Tyler Austin as a centerpiece.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Frank Campagnola says:

      By the way – clearly not happening this season due to the Youkilis signing. Just kinda tossing ideas out there. They’ll still need someone cheap to play 3B if they really want to get under the $189MM mark.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Mike Newman says:

        Problem of Olt to the Yankees is what would they deal for him? I don’t know what kind of package they could put together that would really entice the Rangers.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Preston says:

        What do you think of a Olt for Jesus Montero swap. The Mariners definitely need a young bat that can play any postion other than DH, the Mariner’s have Smoak at 1B, Morales at DH and Jaso/Zunino at C, so Montero is looking like he doesn’t have a home. The Rangers could move him to 1B/DH and he would probably be helped a lot by hitting at Arlington in that lineup.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Mike Newman says:

        Preston,

        I think it would take more than just Montero for Olt at this juncture.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Joefrom Yonkas says:

    Trade him to someone who will play him at 3B. I do not trust his bat otherwise, and think some of the “the Rangers want him to replace Hamilton” stuff I have seen is laughable. I do think his glove is legitimate at 3B.

    He and other should be able to help the Rangers land a strong arm or OF talent, which the Rangers need to be competitive next year unless Olt/Martin/Perez/etc are all immediate studs.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mr. Jones says:

      Pretty sure the Rangers will be “competitive” with their current roster and no more upgrades…

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Cidron says:

        not as sure, given what the Angels have bought, and what the A’s are building, and what the Mariners are willing to spend for.. Texas needs to keep pace.

        Also, on the “do something to let the fans know we are trying”, they lost out on Grienke, Hamilton, Upton (either/both), and a few others, settling? on AJ Pierzynski..

        Merely “competitive” isnt gonna cut it in the AL-west

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • l1ay says:

      As a Ranger fan who has kept up with the off-season feverishly, I have never seen anything close to “the Rangers want him to replace Hamilton”.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. O's Fan says:

    He’d be a perfect fit for the Orioles; once Hardy leaves the infield plan becomes Olt-Machado-Schoop. Problem is, what could the O’s trade for him? Jason Hammel and Jim Johnson? I don’t think that gets it done, but maybe….

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Newman says:

      For the Orioles, it doesn’t make much sense right now to trade contributing pieces at the MLB level for a prospect. If this was a 70 win team, then fine, but they made the playoffs. Yes, it may have been a bit of smoke & mirrors, but the organization needs to enter 2013 whole.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. viconquest says:

    Braves would be a great match — Teheran for Olt would be a good framework. Teheran is looking more like his old self and is probably more valuable right now.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Paul says:

    I think you are coming around to trusting your own take on him, Mike. I was also a big fan based on scouting reports, before I saw him just completely overmatched by the big fastball at the Futures Game. Granted, those guys are throwing high 90s for one inning, but he’ll face relievers throwing that stuff on a regular basis. Plus, how often to you slap the “above average regular” tag on a guy who does not absolutely feast on the FB? He doesn’t really remind me of LaPorta, but the comparison there is that Matt had a similar alarming showing at a Futures Game, when he of course was highly regarded by scouts, and we know how that’s turned out.

    If you look at his splits last year at Frisco, he had a smaller than expected platoon advantage against lefthanders. But his contact percentage against them was even lower than against righthanders. What I saw of him was that he actually does a decent job of inside-outing balls that he can catch up to. This is odd because including the season at Myrtle Beach he has a pretty decided platoon advantage against lefthanders, and would seem to be a guy who goes up there looking to hook flyballs over the fence using his extreme uppercut swing. How do project a guy with that profile? I’d say you don’t, and you try like hell to sell high on him as you suggest.

    I wouldn’t rule him out as an average regular at some point, but I think at best you’re looking at a good defensive 3B who has to be part of a platoon in the near future. His value compared to Moutakas is of course dramatically lower in that case, since Moose’s platoon disadvantage gives him twice the number of plate appearances.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Cody says:

    Giancarlo Stanton to the Rangers for Olt and something.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Tom says:

    George W. Bush did WTC

    -49 Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. DRM says:

    How does one measure explosiveness off the barrel?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • I Agree Guy says:

      Hitf/x?

      Has any of that data become available yet?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Newman says:

      DRM,

      When watching hitters take BP, the ball comes off the bat differently for each player. For example, watching Byron Buxton take BP, it’s difficult to follow the ball off the bat as it leaves the infield so much faster than other prospects. A Jurickson Profar BP session sounds like a series of mini-explosions. When you don’t see that from a top prospect, it sticks out. With Olt, generating BP power came with more effort than I was expecting.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Tim says:

      You could put an accelerometer in the BP bats.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Matt says:

    I think Texas is smart to shop Olt. His perceived value is quite high so they can get a solid return; he’s completely blocked at the MLB level; and the team is ready to win now, so they need to maximize their odds by sacrificing a little extra future for a little more present.

    I’d think the Cubs would be interested, and they may have some SP flex now that they’ve signed EJax.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Newman says:

      The Cubs already acquired Villanueva from Texas. His game isn’t as sexy as Olt’s on paper, but he’s a plus defensive third baseman with the ability to be a .275/.285 player with 15-18 HR in his prime. That’s a valuable commodity.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. LuckyStrikes says:

    SEA Hultzen for TEX Olt – who would hang up first?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Balthazar says:

      Jack Z. I’m sure never hangs up on anyone, but he also remembers Lee for Smoak and dust, and so does his boss and his owners. Jack wouldn’t touch that deal, nor should he, nor are the Ms trading Hultzen, period, endquote.

      But yes, I get the strong sense that the Rangers are looking to sell high on Olt, as they barely managed to do with Smoak, and for the same reason: neither will hit in the Bigs with their swing. What I find interesting is how determined Texas was to keep Andrus when they have Profar practically ready. Maybe the value of defense is finally being appreciated in Flyaway Acres, Texas. Keep ‘em off the bases and the long ball doesn’t bury you.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Cidron says:

        two positions requiring similar skills defensively.. SS and 2b. Heard from multiple sources that the two players will be filling the positions (at the very least, to see how it works out).

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Newman says:

      It’s not unfair, but the Mariners have 0 motivation to make that deal. They already have many infield options.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Robert says:

    We don’t need a 3B, we got Seager. Plus we already made one trade in our own division to get Morales. Making another trade sending one of our top pitching prospects to the Rangers would be a bad move. What we need is a SS. If the Rangers want to part with Andrus for Hultzen I would be all ears.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. brunoneptune says:

    Why not Arizona? Maybe now is a good time to revisit the Upton trade. I don’t think Upton will truly be off the trading block if the right offer comes KT’s way. Olt is essentially MLB ready, too. Would Olt and Martin get it done?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Enkidu says:

    What about the White Sox? Don’t they eventually have to get younger? Something that sends Konerko to Texas…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. All Balls No Brains says:

    Weird question: Has anyone ever traded a free agent the winter after signing them? Because I can think of some teams where he would fit well, but the deal would be trading someone they just picked up. Has this happened before?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Kinsm says:

    They need to trade him to Arizona for an outfielder, he can start in AAA for a year and then replace Chris Johnson (who can be shipped somewhere else). Arizona has way too many outfielders now. If Texas wanted they could make it an even larger package: ask for Matt Davidson in return while Texas sends back high ceiling pitching prospect(s)…that way Texas gets their future 1bman who is blocked by Goldy in the desert.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Kinsm says:

      Something like Mike Olt, Luke Jackson, and Cody Buckel to Arizona, Justin Upton and Matt Davidson to Texas.

      That will leave Texas light on pitching prospects but that’s what it would probably take to pry away the 25 year old Upton and his 3 years of control.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. If you send Garza to the Rangers for Olt straight up………. to the Cubs………..who wins the deal? The Rangers could request the ability to work out an extension with Garza before the trade becomes complete.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. shthar says:

    Trade Olt?

    Oy!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Landon says:

    Garza for Olt + Perez + a top 20 prospect was a done deal according to David Kaplan the day Garza was hurt. I would imagine Garza if he proves healthy in spring training will be traded for a similar package considering the pitching market current value.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. jdbolick says:

    Olt’s Z-Contact of 68.4% is frightening. It’s pretty normal for a guy to chase pitches after a first call-up, but completely missing balls within the zone is much more concerning. Profar had a similarly bad batting average, but his Z-Contact% was 85.0%. Yes, small sample sizes, but it squares with my impression of Olt as having a questionable ability to make contact at the major league level.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. kniwujun says:

    good,good

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *