The Future of Olt

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Yesterday, after nearly four months of a disappointing season, Mike Olt was sent down to Triple A Iowa to make room for Tsuyoshi Wada.

I have to admit, since hearing that the Chicago Cubs received Olt in a trade for Matt Garza from the Texas Rangers, I was pretty excited. He was a legitimate third base prospect, something the Cubs had been lacking or a long time. Granted, he had some issues when the Cubs acquired him, but he still had the makings of being a good third baseman in the major leagues. He had a pretty impressive Spring Training this year, and I was sure that he would win the nod to be the starting third baseman for the Cubs in 2014. While he did break camp with the Cubs, he was not the every day third sacker I thought he would be. But he did get plenty of playing time, he just was never able to cement his place in the majors or show that he truly belonged in the big leagues, often looking lost and overmatched.

After another disappointing game on Tuesday night, the Cubs had seen enough and had mercy on Olt, sending him to Triple A to see if he could find his bat.

Unfortunately for Olt though, he will have to play first base and designated hitter as third is currently occupied by some guy named Kris Bryant. That is okay though, as Olt will now be seeing at bats every day and hopefully will find his swing and be able to return to the Majors to be everything the baseball world thought he would be.

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The journey back might not be easy, though not impossible. History is rich with players who failed in their first attempt in the Majors, only to return in glory. You do not have to look too far for an example, as Anthony Rizzo is living proof that Olt can still have a very good career in the Majors.

Looking back at Rizzo’s first Major League experience, you see an odd similarity, though not identical.

In his first call to the big leagues, Rizzo played in 49 games with 128 at bats hitting .141 with one homer and nine RBI. He also struck out 46 times and walked 21 times.

Olt (he had 16 games in 2012, but that’s a really small sample size) played in 72 games this season for the Cubs with 187 at bats hitting .139 with 12 homers and 30 RBI, both leading NL rookies. Olt also struck out a massive 84 times while only drawing 19 walks.

Now, I am not saying Olt will ever be as good as Rizzo looks now (and maybe I am looking through my Cubbie Blue glasses) but I think that Olt has the ability to return to the Majors and be that force we hoped he would be. He may not be the third baseman when/if he returns because as much as the Cubs have said they may move him to the outfield, Bryant wants to stay at third.

Of course, there is a very real chance that Olt is exactly what he looked like when he was with the Cubs. Impressive power when he made contact, but has a large hole in his swing. He might never be the player that hits for power and average. He might just be a guy in the organization. After all the hype we heard about them, that appears to be exactly what Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters are.

I sincerely hope that Olt is able to earn his way back to the Cubs and not just as a September call up. If he ever does learn to hit for average, he would be a very nice piece in the middle of the lineup. The power is there, but his swing just cannot seem to connect to the baseball enough to make him a worthwhile Major League player.

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