It was unclear when the season began what Mike Olt would provide offensively. Olt had quite a bit of swing and miss in his game while being considered one of the top prospects in the game. And multiple injuries slowed his development in the Rangers organization prior to him coming to the Cubs’ system last summer.
Mike Olt dealt with a shoulder injury in Spring Training that prevented him from getting valuable time in the field. But he was still able to get at bats as the Cubs designated hitter and at first base. Olt made the team out of Spring Training and outside of hitting the ball out of the park and playing good defense at third base, he’s struggled at the plate.
In 179 plate appearances (159 at bats), Mike Olt has 23 hits and 15 walks with 69 strikeouts. And 13 of the 23 hits have gone for extra bases. Olt has hit 10 home runs, knocked in 25 runs and has hit two doubles. Olt actually has as many singles as home runs this year.
The Sun-Times reported Sunday that the Cubs do not plan to send Mike Olt to the minors. The Cubs front office feels he can work through his struggles at the big league level. And Theo Epstein addressed the team’s decision during an interview on Inside the Clubhouse (670 The Score) last Saturday morning.
Wayne Randazzo asked Theo Epstein how much patience the Cubs will have with Mike Olt’s struggles at the big league level before he is sent back to Triple-A. And in the long-term, how much patience they will have with Mike Olt before the Cubs realize that he might not hit big league pitching the way they thought he would.
“I think this is the time to find out really, isn’t it? We have an opportunity to play him and see what he can do up here,” Epstein said. “He’s kind of a unique case. He hasn’t been a traditional development path because he had the difficulties when he got beaned in winter ball and that set him back significantly. So that’s something major that he’s trying to bounce back from and he’s shown enough signs, I think, to warrant a continued look and even if he doesn’t develop into an everyday player, he’s pretty athletic, can play multiple positions. He’s had some exposure in the corner outfields, can play both corner infield spots and is a real threat against left handed pitching. So he’ll get a chance to play and we hope that he continues to develop and becomes an everyday player in the big leagues. Because that kind of power, defense versatility and a pretty valuable lefty masher are keys on a winning roster.”
Mike Olt is batting .182/.265/.523 against left handed pitching this season with five home runs, five walks and 13 strikeouts in 44 at bats with a .788 OPS. Against right handed pitching, Olt is hitting .130/.208/.287 with three doubles, five home runs, 10 walks and 56 strikeouts in 115 at bats with a .495 OPS.
Baseball America’s scouting report on Olt from two years ago is still accurate. “With plus-raw power and a strong hitting approach, Olt is a threat to go deep anytime he steps to the plate. He works deep counts and piles up both walks and strikeouts. Pitchers have had success exploiting the length of his swing by attacking him with high fastballs as he continues to work to identify and stay back on breaking balls.”
The Cubs have not played Mike Olt in the outfield yet this season. But with the way Theo Epstein talks about his versatility, one has to wonder when Olt will trot out to one of the corner outfield spots. Because if the Cubs see him as a utility player, as a worse-case scenario, then now would seem to be the time for the front office to see if Mike Olt can handle the job.