The Chicago White Sox have claimed infielder Mike Olt off waivers from their crosstown rival Chicago Cubs, ending Olt’s unproductive tenure with the Cubs, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
The White Sox have claimed Mike Olt and Rafael Soriano has been released. #Cubs
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) September 5, 2015
Olt, 27, was a highly regarded power hitting prospect in the Texas Rangers system. Being ranked as high as the 16th best prospect in the minor leagues by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo in 2012, Olt never saw any significant playing time in Arlington, getting just 33 at-bats and posting a.152 batting average in 2012.
As the Rangers were looking to bolster their starting rotation in 2013 for a hopeful playoff run, they traded Olt and several pitchers to the Cubs in exchange for right-hander Matt Garza, per the Chicago Tribune. But vision problems that dated back to his time in Texas hampered Olt followed him to Chicago, as detailed in an article by The Dallas Morning News.
Trying to fit into a new environment and fix his eyesight, Olt did not see any playing time in the majors in 2013. However, the next season, Olt was given an extended look at the major league level as he appeared to fix his swing and his eyesight.
Playing in 89 games for the 2014 Cubs, Olt ended up receiving a career-high 258 plate appearances. But despite receiving the opportunity, Olt showed that he still had several holes in his swing that needed to be corrected.
The New Haven, Connecticut, native hit a meager.160 in 2014. But even in being an unproductive average hitter, his strong right-handed bat was able to swat 12 HR and drive in 33 runs. That would be Olt’s last sustained showcase at the big league level as he only played six games and got 15 at bats in 2015, hitting.133 with one HR and one RBI.
With mainstay Anthony Rizzo and superstar rookie Kris Bryant firmly entrenched at the corners, Olt did not have a clear-cut spot on the major league roster. Partnered with his subpar performance during his near two-and-a-half-year stint with the Cubs, the team designated him for assignment on August 31, per ESPN.
The White Sox are currently trotting out Tyler Saladino and Gordon Beckham at third base in 2015. Neither man is posting overly productive seasons in 2015 and are not considered to be long-term fixtures at the hot corner. If Olt’s eyesight and power stroke can be corrected, he could be the White Sox incumbent at third base for years to come.
[Image by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]