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Rangers Turn To Mike Olt To Help Offense

The Rangers have been one of the two or three best teams in baseball basically since Opening Day, but they only went 9-14 and scored an MLB-low 81 runs in July. As a team they hit .192/.310/.271 with runners in scoring position last month, which is pretty hard to fathom. Michael Young is having his worst season since his rookie year, Josh Hamilton's slump is now two months long, and others like Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, and Ian Kinsler simply didn't carry their weight in July. Scoring the fewest runs in baseball over an extended period of time takes a total team effort.

In an effort to spice up the offense, the Rangers announced after last night's come-from-behind win over the Angels that they were purchasing the contract of third baseman Mike Olt from Double-A Frisco. Both Baseball America and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (subs. req'd) ranked the 23-year-old Olt as the 11th best prospect in the game in their midseason top 50 prospect lists while ESPN's Keith Law (Insider req'd) was a little more bearish, ranking him 46th overall. We can quibble with the individual rankings all day, but the bottom line is that Texas just skipped one of baseball's top offensive prospects over Triple-A to help the big league team.

Olt, the 49th overall selection in 2010, hit .288/.398/.579 with 28 homers in 421 plate appearances for Frisco this season after hitting to the tune of .264/.381/.500 with 15 homers in his first full professional season last year. He's a right-handed hitter and took the place of fellow righty Brandon Snyder, who pinch-hit and made spot starts at first base and in both corner outfield spots before being sent down last night. Part of the reason why Olt is such a great prospect is his defense -- he's worked hard to become an above-average gloveman at the hot corner since being drafted. The problem is that Beltre is entrenched at third base for the next few years.

The Rangers have worked to increase Olt's versatility this season, having him start 13 games at first base and three in right field. They have not yet indicated how they will use him in the big leagues, so right now we can only speculate about his playing time. He could spot start at either corner infielder position, perhaps start a few games in right, maybe even taking some DH at-bats away from a franchise icon in Young. I don't think Texas recalled Olt just to have him fill Snyder's role - Snyder only has 68 plate appearances this season - they're going to play him somewhere. That could work to the advantage of fantasy owners since multi-position eligibility is always a benefit.

Projecting Olt's production for the rest of the season is a tough task because of the playing time question. He annihilated left-handed hitters in Double-A, I'm talking a .272/.422/.598 batting line with eight homes in 92 at-bats, and that's how he figures to into the lineup. I wouldn't expect anything more a decent .250-.260-ish batting average, though strange things can happen in small samples, especially when platooned. The power is real and with two months left to go in the season, Olt could run into eight or nine dingers the rest of the way. If he gets enough playing time, he could offer you similar production to someone like Mike Moustakas or Will Middlebrooks. It's easy to fall in love with the hype surrounding top prospects, but I tend to always bet the under.

In traditional 12-team, 5x5 scoring mixed leagues, Olt is probably best used as an extra guy on the roster you can use at various positions (assuming he picks up 1B and OF eligibility in short order) whenever Texas is scheduled to face a left-handed pitcher. They get former teammate C.J. Wilson tonight and Olt is expected to be in the lineup. We can't get an accurate read on his fantasy value until we get an idea of how he'll be used and how much playing time he'll receive, but expect to get some power and RBI production if you can't help yourself and grab him off the waiver.



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