Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
For years the Cubs farm system has been less than fruitful. Let’s be honest, it was downright terrible. But now, under the new regime, the Cubs have a blossoming farm system with a long list of talent. And today we continue that coverage with former Rangers 3B prospect Mike Olt.
Last season in another deal made in an effort to build for the future, the Cubs sent Matt Garza to the Rangers for a solid package of prospects. Among those acquired was Mike Olt. If the deal had been made a year earlier, he would have been a headliner of the deal. But recurring vision issues (a tear duct was failing to produce tears, leading to excessive blinking) led to a down year for Olt.
Entering the 2102 season, MLB.com had Olt rated as the 43rd overall prospect in baseball. He did not disappoint, posting a line of .288/.398/.579 to go along with 28 home runs and 82 RBI’s. He was named to the 2012 All-Star Futures game, and seemed to be on the fast track. But the vision issues plagued him shortly into the 2013 season after a promotion to AAA Round Rock. After the July 22nd trade brought him to the Cubs, the struggles continued at AAA Iowa. Olt posted a sub .200 average between the two teams, but still showed the power hitting 15 home runs.
After the diagnosis Olt began using special eye drops and feels his issues are behind him.
“I’m excited for spring training,” Olt said Wednesday. “I’ve worked hard. … I feel really good. A little break was something I needed. The body feels good. The mental break feels great.”
The Cubs entering this season have no front-runner for the 3rd base job. Olt will compete along with Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy for the job. Olt has the highest upside of the candidates, but with Kris Bryant lingering in the wings, the time is now for him. If he is completely past the vision issues and can reproduce the output from 2012, Olt could end up being a huge steal for the Cubs. My guess is worst case, a healthy Olt will platoon with Valbuena. But the Cubs have solid options on the horizon should things not work out.
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