By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
May 24, 2010
Connecticut third baseman Mike Olt is the guy scouts like and publications don’t want to like. I’ll go with the scouts on this one. Here’s why.
For me, there is absolutely no comparison between Olt’s right-handed power to all fields and defensive capabilities compared to the third baseman most draft rags and sites want, Zack Cox, Arkansas’s hard-nosed grinder and contact-hitting machine. Olt hit three more home runs on Friday, giving him 20 to set a single-season program record. Two of the balls went out to left field and the third went out to left-center. I’ve seen Olt with wood hit for power to all fields on the Cape.
While his power potential was never a question, some were concerned by the strikeouts that came too often in his first 25 games, when he had about 30 strikeouts. At that point, Olt made an adjustment, which is also something I have repeatedly said about this guy. He narrowed his stance while keeping his normal stride. This correction allowed for Olt to keep his head still and lead one scout to confidentially remark that Olt is “dangerous every at-bat.”
Olt came out of nowhere for many observers this season because he missed much of his sophomore season with a wrist injury. He came back and shook off the rust playing for Orleans, which is where I first saw him. In wood BP, you could see Olt had power to all fields. In the games, you could tell he was struggling to get back his timing against good pitching every night and with unforgiving wood. One thing that came back right away for him was his defense. The play he makes that would stand out is charging the slow roller and making the off-balanced throw with velocity and accuracy.
I saw Olt again this spring when the Huskies were in Los Angeles. The first thing I noted was that I felt Olt had trimmed down, which added to his athleticism around third. A former high school shortstop, he wouldn’t physically profile there as a pro, but he can take third. He has too many tools – arm strength, arm accuracy, range coming in, range to his left, athleticism – to corner at first base.
Speaking with East Coast scouting sources this week, Olt has continued to improve and impress defensively. One source compared him defensively to Brooks Robinson. I don’t usually take it lightly when someone drops names like that on an amateur.
I told the scout that if you put Robinson on Olt that you are putting an 80 on him defensively as a major leaguer. My question – are you sure? His answer? Yes.
As far as scouting intangibles, Olt has earned a good reputation as a quiet on the field leader. The guy is a grinder with a solid work ethic. Olt is a scout’s ballplayer, as Cox is down South. The difference for me is Olt’s superior power, arm and defense, money tools for his position.