Third baseman and one-time mega-prospect Mike Olt has signed a minor league contract with the Padres, just two days after being released by the White Sox. Olt, who was ranked a top-50 prospect by Baseball America before the 2012 season, and was in the top 25 before the 2013 campaign, will not be contending for a spot on San Diego's Opening Day roster; in fact, he won't even be taking part in major league camp.
Olt was the forty-ninth overall pick in the 2010 draft, and hit well in the low minors for the Rangers organization. His high-water mark was in 2012 when he hit 28 home runs in just 354 at-bats for AA Frisco while compiling a respectable .288 batting average. He was homerless with a .154 average in his brief 16-game taste of the majors that season, but that was little cause for concern. What did, however, make his stock drop was an ugly showing in AAA in 2013. He split the season between Round Rock and Iowa, as he was moved to the Cubs organization in a trade for Matt Garza. Altogether he hit .201/ .303/ .381 with just 15 home runs in 373 at-bats, and was not added to Chicago's September roster.
Despite his failings at the AAA level in 2013, Olt made the Cubs' Opening Day roster in 2014 but played himself out of the starting third baseman job, and out of the league by late July. He hit .302/ .348/ .585 with seven homers in his 28 games with Iowa, and returned to Chicago in September, at which time he was utilized as a first baseman. His AAA success did not carry over, as he didn't homer in his 17-game return stint; between his two stays in the majors that year he hit .160/ .248/ .356 with a dozen home runs in 225 at-bats. Nevertheless, he returned as the Opening Day starter last season while the Cubs manipulated Kris Bryant's service time. This was short-lived, as he broke his wrist in his sixth game. By the time he healed up, Bryant was already hitting like the superstar he is, and Olt went to Iowa yet again, where he stayed until he was waived at the end of August. The White Sox picked him up, and he finished the season by batting .203/ .267/ .316 with three homers in 79 at-bats over 24 games, bringing his season stats between both Chicago teams to .191/ .255/ .319.
In his three seasons with three clubs, Olt has a batting line of .168/ .250/ .330 in 352 at-bats and 400 total plate appearances. His extra-base totals are nothing to write home about for someone whose only strength is his strength; he has nine doubles and 16 homers, nowhere near enough of either to justify his 148 strikeouts in 135 games.
Olt will return to the state where he had his finest season, this time as a member of either the AAA El Paso Chihuahuas or the AA San Antonio Missions. If he sees a single pitch while wearing a Padres uniform, that is a clear indicator that this season has gone somehow even worse than expected.