The Fallen: The Former Highly Ranked Prospects, Mike Olt Edition
While four top current talents buoy the strongest Cubs’ system, the system also contains several formerly high ranked prospects who fell down the prospect rankings to some extent or another. Mike Olt, Arodys Vizcaino, Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson are the prime members of this group. Prior to the start of spring training games, we’ll look at the best case and worst case scenarios for the prospects, starting with third base prospect Mike Olt.
The Heights: Olt improved from back end of Top 100 prospect lists to a plus power, solid on base, plus defensive third baseman in 2012 when he hit .288/.398/.579, including 28 home runs, for the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas Rangers’ Double A Affiliate. Following the 2012 season, a significant majority of prospect analysts viewed him as a Top 50 in baseball prospect, with Baseball America naming him the twenty-second best prospect in baseball.
The Depths: Olt was beaned in the head while playing winter ball last offseason, and had some significant vision problems. He was also terrible, posting a .684 OPS during a season split between the Rangers’ and Cubs’ Triple A affiliates. Less than a year after the Rangers said he was nearly untouchable, they traded him to the Cubs as, at best, the second best prospect the Cubs received for Matt Garza.
Best Case Scenario: The vision issue was the sole significant cause of Olt’s 2013 struggles, and offseason surgery corrected that problem. With the vision issues behind him, he hits like he did in 2012, claims the Cubs’ starting third base spot at the start of the season, at least holding the position until Javier Baez or Kris Bryant are ready, and potentially causing some discussions regarding a logjam of very good players on the left side of the infield if he approaches the promise of his Double A campaign.
Worst Case Scenario: Olt has two potential worst case scenarios. The first is that the bad vision did not cause his problems in 2013, but instead because Triple A pitchers could take advantage of Olt’s swing and miss tendencies, or were caused by his vision problems and those problems aren’t fixed. He gets a shot at the Cubs’ third base spot to start the season, but fails miserably, completely destroying any trade value he still possesses.