Now that Yu Darvish is officially a Texas Ranger, the next free agent that many Rangers fans would like to be the next new Ranger is Prince Fielder. While Texas General Manager Jon Daniels has officially stated “It’s very unlikely” that Fielder would be signed, he left some wiggle room for the slugger in the same interview. He did this through the statement that “we’ll get the next few days under our belt, welcome Yu to Texas and then take a step back and look at things.”
In possibly related other off season news the Rangers have extended a spring training invitation to Rangers prospect Mike Olt. Olt has been a third baseman for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in 2011, but missed half of the season due to a broken collarbone that occurred during a play at the plate on June 6, 2011. Olt came back towards the end of the season and went on to light up the 2011 Arizona Fall League. Given the fact that Olt seems to be blocked at 3rd base by Adrian Beltre the Rangers have asked that he also take up learning first base. But if Fielder is brought on then Olt would be blocked again.
This may be causing the Rangers front office some consternation since it would mean that Olt would be blocked out of the infield. Olt wouldn’t be the first major Ranger prospect to be blocked in their primary position to go on and become quality major leaguers. Former Ranger and current Yankee Mark Teixiera began as a third baseman but moved to first when he was blocked by Hank Blalock at third. Beltre is much better at third than Blalock was so third is out of the question for Olt.
Mike Olt was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 1st round of the 2010 MLB draft with the 49th overall pick, which was a supplemental pick for loosing Marlon Byrd. The 23 year old is 6’2” 210 and attended the University of Connecticut. In the 2011 Arizona Fall League Olt played for the Surprise Saguaros where he won accolades as AFL Player of the Week twice and was named to the AFL All-Prospect Team. He hit an astounding .349/.433/.764 with 13 home runs and 43 RBI. But his 36 strikeouts to 15 walks means while being a slugger he also need to work on better plate command.
Olt’s 2011 injury shortened minor league season was spent with the Hi-A affiliate Myrtle Beach Pelicans. In 69 games there he hit a respectable .267/.387/.504 in 240 at bats. He had 14 home runs and 42 RBI. His strike out to walk was 70/48 which is a better rate than what he put up later in the AFL. Olt also posted a .945 fielding rate. With the loss of two months in 2011 I wouldn’t be surprised to see Olt begin 2012 in Myrtle Beach again.
After being drafted in 2010 Olt played with the short season A Spokane Indians. There he posted offensive numbers of .293/.390/.464. Along with these numbers he had 9 home runs and 43 RBI in 263 at bats. His 2011 numbers at the University of Connecticut were .318/.401/.659 with 23 home runs in 264 at bats and played all 64 games of the season.
If it happens that Fielder is brought in and Olt is blocked at first, I think that he should not instantly become trade bait. In my opinion a batter with his power and ability would make better sense to be moved to the outfield where he could join the ranks of outfield power hitters like Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. Having him ready in to take over an outfield position in 2013/2014 with Beltre and Fielder on the infield corners would be a good thing for the Texas Rangers.
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