While most people are talking about the infield of the Chicago Cubs’ future with one of Javier Baez or Kris Bryant holding down the hot corner for the North Siders, Mike Olt wants to be the club’s third baseman of the present rather than the future. Healthy and swinging the bat well, Olt could make a big enough impression on the Cubs’ brass to earn his way onto the 2014 Opening Day roster to play third base.
The 2010 supplemental round draftee (49th overall) by the Texas Rangers has had some incredible minor league success in his first three professional season, capping it off with a 28-home run 2012 season in Double-A Frisco that had him hit .288/.398/.579 in 2012 and resulted in him making his major league debut with the Rangers.
In 2013, however, a combination of medical ailments contributed to Olt being unable to perform, hitting just .201 over the course of the whole season and getting traded to the Cubs mid-season as part of the Matt Garza deal. A shoulder injury had restricted him to playing first base and designated hitter so far this spring but on Thursday, he made his Cactus League debut at third base but only made one play, catching a pop up off the bat of Seattle’s Kyle Seager.
Despite the limited opportunities, it has been reported by Carrie Muskat on Twitter that Olt is scheduled to play third today and tomorrow to give him the opportunity to play at the hot corner on consecutive days.
It is unlikely that the Cubs are worried about Olt’s bat: he has hit .289/.333/.632 with a double and four home runs in 42 plate appearances. The fact that he appears to be healthy and over the medical issues (particularly with his vision) makes him the best candidate to break camp with the Cubs as the every day third baseman. While Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy could split time there if Olt isn’t ready, they don’t have nearly as much talent with the bat and bringing in a potential 30-HR slugger who can provide very solid defense at third is almost a no brainer.
If Olt can show that he’s healthy and ready to go at third base as well as at the plate over the last week of spring training, he will be one to watch in the Cubs’ lineup.