Cubs Plan for Mike Olt to Continue Development in the Majors

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.

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  • GoCubs

    Mike Schimdt, in his first full year hit .196 with 18 home runs…Just saying…

    • Swish23

      and Olt is not anywhere near .196. So your point is mute. he cannot hit MLB pitching and next year with Bryant and Baez has no place to play. send him to iowa to play 1b, OF and some DH and then throw him in a trade for some other failed SP prospect; which we need more than a hitter. thinking he can develop on the bench or struggling is stupid, this is another example of the FO being clueless.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Please do not respond to posters on this site in this manner again. You can disagree in a respectful way. Please read the site’s commenting policy.

        Thank you.

      • Tony_H

        And you are the one that knows better than the guys in the FO with their World Series rings and their entire staff and vast amounts of information, 10x what we can see and have access to on the internet?

        The point is the same and some great players have had slow starts to their career. Whether Mike Olt becomes a short time player who has a hole in his swing or an all time great is still to be determined.

      • GoCubs

        Mike Schmidt, in his first year, had 367 PA. Struck out 136 times. The point is that it is way too early to make a judgement on Olt. I feel Olt is a keeper at 3rd.

      • salukihawk

        Is his point mute, or moot? Who is clueless?

  • Ray Koenig

    Olt won’t develop if he doesn’t play.

  • Chris K.

    They need to figure out what they are doing with Darwin Barney. Dealing him opens up a spot for Valbuena to play every day at 2B. Or figure out their terrible OF.

    • Ripsnorter1

      No need to trade Barney so Valbuena can play. It’s a complete No-Brainer: Barney cannot hit. He hit .208 last year; he’s hitting .204 this year. Why do we need to play him instead of someone more offensively minded?

      Some say his defense demands he get playing time. Good defensive teams finish last if they are not good offensively. Miguel Cabrera: should he be benched or released because he isn’t a Gold Glove INF? No way. You win with Big Bats; not big gloves.

      Play Valbuena and be done with Mr. Barney forever.

      • Denver Mike

        I’m not saying Barney has a ton a value, and I personally don’t like watching him either. But this is why there extreme viewpoints look so foolish:

        https://twitter.com/thecco/status/482529785701470208

        • Ripsnorter1

          If Mr. Barney has such great value, let’s see him traded for more than the waiver price. Then such extreme viewpoints can be called foolish. If his purchase price is nothing more than the waiver fee, or if he nets only such minor leaguers who have no chance of a major league career (see the Tom Gorzelanny trade) such viewpoints, instead of being foolish, are realistic.

          Time will show us which is correct.

          • Denver Mike

            You’re missing the point. Of course Barney has no stand alone value in a trade, anyone would admit that. But if Anthopolous is looking for a defensive 2B rather than a bat, then Barney could very well be a throw-in to help grease the wheels on a Samardzija deal. If you look past the surface, and think about it a little bit, it isn’t crazy. That is why these extreme views look foolish, because they completely ignore the big picture for the sake of trying to bash the player or FO.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Mr. Barney makes $2.5 million for 2014, and he’ll make more in 2015 if some team acquires him. That alone makes him unattractive to teams. Of course the Cubs could pull a Soriano or Zambrano and pay his entire salary for his new team. But if so, he’s not worth the trouble of keeping him.

          • Denver Mike

            Is he still arbitration eligible next year? Based on how little he plays, and how poorly when he does, I didn’t figure he’d get any more next year through arb. than this year.

            As far as paying his salary to get rid of him, if it’s a 1-for-1 trade ala Zambrano or Soriano then I agree it’s sort of a waste because the prospect we get back will likely be a non-factor. But as I said before, if he is the piece that greases the wheels of a Samardzija for Sanchez, Norris, Pompey deal then so be it. Pay the whole contract if need be, I think we all feel the Ricketts needs to spend money anyways. I don’t care how they spend it as long as it brings some impact players over.

      • Chris K.

        I agree sir. But if Barney is off the roster, Renteria doesn’t have the option to use him.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          it is like taking Jose Macias and Cesar Izturis off the roster, otherwise Dusty will trot them out there constantly…I totally agree.

  • redlarczykg

    To display the phony, baloney new “Cub Way”, remember “a player must dominate each level before being promoted” according to Theo & Jed. Olt was hurt last year, but why doesn’t he have to spend a year at AAA to show he can handle to off speed pitches, which he obviously CAN’T HIT in the show. Olt needs at bats and to build back his confidence in Iowa, and hope he doesn’t turn into a Vitters/Jackson lost cause.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Vitters and Jackson are under coach Manny Ramirez now they are going to be hall of famers.

    • Ripsnorter1

      See Gary Scott and lost confidence.

    • Tony_H

      They have never said that a player must dominate each level before being promoted. Very few players would ever be promoted then. They said that if a player dominates it will accelerate their promotion.

  • The Dude Abides

    Josh Vitters & Brett Jackson scratch their head and smile about Olt. Hopefully we either release or trade these two soon so they can at least get the same chance before their careers are over.

    • Tony_H

      Neither of those guys showed any signs at the plate. If they had HR/AB numbers that Olt has they would have had more of a chance to stick.

      • The Dude Abides

        Thank you, you are very intuitive on all things Chicago
        Cubs. Somehow I think your expertise runs much deeper than just baseball.

        “Never showed any signs at the plate,” sometime take a look
        at all three 2012 numbers. Arguable the last healthy season for all three and Vitters & Jackson put up good AAA and Olt put up good AA numbers. All three are questionable to make it but to say neither showed any signs is incorrect.

        • Tony_H

          I was talking about their time in the majors.

        • Tony_H

          I was talking about their time in the majors.

        • Tony_H

          I think both guys should get another chance this August/September. One it will open up 2 spots in Iowa for promotions from Tennessee (or demotions from Chicago) and if just one could serve as the 5th OF next year it would be good to see.

      • The Dude Abides

        Thank you, you are very intuitive on all things Chicago
        Cubs. Somehow I think your expertise runs much deeper than just baseball.

        “Never showed any signs at the plate,” sometime take a look
        at all three 2012 numbers. Arguable the last healthy season for all three and Vitters & Jackson put up good AAA and Olt put up good AA numbers. All three are questionable to make it but to say neither showed any signs is incorrect.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Mike Olt last 25 AB 2 hits 1 hr 1 bb 15 k

    • redlarczykg

      Don’t worry! Theo has a plan for Olt.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    Theo is totally laying the groundwork for an Olt move to OF to pave way for Bryant. I am pretty sure FO hoped Olt would thrive at 3B and force them to move Bryant to 3B, but that hasn’t happened. So Olt as a platoon OFer against lefties and pinch-hitter off bench against lefties might be his future upside now.

  • salukihawk

    Well then play him. I have been on board with much of the overhaul of the organization, but the handling of Olt has been bizarre at best. He’s not going to shake is slump playing once every four days. He needs ABs, whether in CHI or at Iowa. And there is no 1b to take playing time away from at Iowa, making this even more bizarre. I think the raw tools are there but he needs to play.

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