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- Can you remember someone as wild cardy in recent memory than Mike Olt heading into 2014? The thoughts on him from Cubs fans range from “above average starter at third base this year” to “is he still in the organization?” You know the story: Olt, 25, rose to elite prospect status with a dominant 2012 season in the Rangers system, and looked to be a future offensive threat and great glove at third base. He was beaned playing winter ball after the season, and thereafter suffered vision issues that may or may not have been related to the beaning. Those vision issues crushed his 2013 season, so much so that he was included in a deal to the Cubs for a couple months of a Matt Garza (a deal that already included three nice pieces in C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, and Neil Ramirez). He received prescription eye drops that helped, but were not considered a long-term solution. All in all, it was an awful year for Olt, and no one seems to be sure what’s going to happen with him going forward. At last check – several months ago – Olt was working in Arizona, and there were suggestions that he felt his eye issue was in the past.
- That entire Bullet was a preamble to someone asking Jonathan Mayo what to expect from Olt next year, and Mayo sounds as uncertain as we all are. “Olt is one of the tougher prospects to figure out these days. Once a top Rangers prospect who looked like a power threat and a run producer at the hot corner, the wheels completely fell off in 2013. It started with vision issues, reportedly caused from getting hit while playing winter ball. Once that was corrected – and all reports say his vision is just fine – he never found his way back to where he was in 2012.” So, Mayo apparently has heard that Olt’s vision is now fine. Hopefully that’s accurate, and hopefully Olt has rested this offseason, forgotten all about his miserable year, and hits the ground running in 2014, right where he left off in 2012. If that happens, the Cubs could suddenly have a nice, regular third base option to hold down the fort until the Bryant/Baez/Castro dam threatens to burst.
- (Throw in the theoretical desire to give Christian Villanueva the regular third base starts at AAA Iowa, and there’s another tricky wrinkle to the Olt story.)
- As of last check on the publicly-available Hall of Fame ballots, Greg Maddux was still pulling in votes on 100% of the ballots. Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas are above 90%, and Craig Biggio is above 80%. The next highest are actually Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell.
- Speaking of the Hall of Fame, Jay Jaffe looks at the most overlooked players at each position when it comes to enshrinement (i.e., guys who were at one time eligible, but have fallen off the ballot). Kenny Lofton is the center field representative, though Jaffe concedes that the JAWS system would have Lofton just shy of Hall-worthiness. Lofton was eligible for the first time last year, but didn’t receive the requisite 5% of the vote to stay on. Lofton is best remembered by Cubs fans for his 56 games in Chicago – seriously, that was it – during the stretch run in 2003. His .327/.381/.471 line out of the leadoff spot help push the Cubs to the playoffs after he was picked up, together with Aramis Ramirez, from the Pirates. Even at 40 years old, Lofton put up a .296/.367/.414 line – dude could just get on base.
- Kevin Goldstein, formerly of Baseball Prospectus, has been promoted by the Astros to Director of Professional Scouting after being snagged by the organization a year and a half ago. It’s another impressive plaudit in Goldstein’s impressive fedora. Good on him.
Cubs Prospect Notes: Alcántara’s Big Year Ahead, Caution on Wicks and Triantos, Offensive System, Slaughter, Hodge, More