Today’s news of the Chicago Cubs assigning Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Addison Russell to the minor leagues didn’t come as a surprise. And while the moves are expected to be temporary, specifically for Bryant – it does allow for some players to prove their worth.
Mike Olt now seems to be the odds on favorite to start the season as the team’s third baseman. With this opportunity he needs to make every inning count. He’ s played well this spring, still flashing the power we saw last year, but putting the ball in play more consistently. The strikeouts are still there, but his walk numbers are up as well.
Defensively, Olt has been excellent, as he hasn’t committed an error yet this spring. While his glove hasn’t been an issue, it is still nice to see that he hasn’t allowed any frustrations at the plate affect his defense.
It is likely that Bryant will be in the minors for a limited time – and in that time it is expected that his defense will be the focus. But he could be looking at more work in the outfield than at third. If that holds true – Olt has a prime chance to make himself a permanent part of the Cubs future plans. But he will have to play like the highly regarded prospect he was, and not the free swinging hitter like last year.
Arismendy Alcantara also could find himself with a great opportunity. He was going to be a key part of the Cubs anyway as he is figured to be a super-utility type player – but this now give him a chance to win over management with his skills as a second baseman.
Alcantara has all the skills necessary to be an everyday player and a high quality one too – if he does play that way he could make Baez’s stay in the minor’s even longer than expected – maybe even making him a valuable trading chip for pitching.
The time for these players will be short, so their margin for error will be very low. While Alcantara seems to be safe with his versatility – the same can’t be said for Olt.
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This time will be much more valuable for Olt to prove to the Cubs that he can be a valuable piece to their future plans–or at the least build his trade potential for himself, as well as the team. With solid play from Olt – Bryant could be seeing himself as a permanent outfielder.
The window of opportunity is open – while it may only be a crack, at least it is open. It may not be for long, time but sometimes all players need is just a shot–and that is what they have right now.