Pitchers and catchers are due to report to spring training in less than two weeks, which means it is time to take a look at another top position battle to keep an eye on in camp.
Today my 2014 Fantasy Baseball preview continues with a look at the Chicago Cubs’ third base battle as I continue to look at the National League Central.
When you think about the Cubs at the moment, there isn’t too much to get overly excited about in terms of great fantasy options, but that all could change once some of Chicago’s young and talented minor leaguers begin to make their way to the big leagues.
The first guy on the radar could be Mike Olt.
Two years ago, Olt was among the top prospects in all of baseball, but my how times have changed.
However despite having some vision problems that led to Olt hitting just .201 last season over 107 minor league games, primarily at the Triple-A Iowa level, Olt will have every opportunity to win the Cubs’ third base job coming out of spring training. He only hit 15 homers and drove in 42 runs with 132 strikeouts and only 55 walks last season, but there is a lot to potentially like about Olt heading into the 2014 season.
The 25-year-old, acquired by the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade last year, made his major league debut in 2012 after posting a .977 OPS with 28 homers in 95 Double-A games, but struggled in the majors and could never get in a groove in Triple-A last season.
Olt was plagued by vision problems this season, but claims he’s over those issues now. He’s already working at the Cubs’ spring training complex in Arizona and the Cubs are as eager to see what he can do with the bat as most fantasy owners.
Personally I like to think the 2013 season was a fluke and look more at the solid first three minor league campaigns he put together. That’s more of an indicator of what Olt could be capable of.
If he doesn’t win the job coming out of spring training, the job will likely go to Luis Valbuena, who did a decent job last year with a .708 OPS and 12 homers. However Valbuena isn’t much of a fantasy option coming into the season.
That puts all eyes on Olt, who despite his struggles a year ago still owns a career .844 OPS with 67 homers and 213 RBI through four minor league campaigns. If Olt finally figures things out, he could be a decent source of fantasy impact, one that could be had later in most drafts.
Currently I wouldn’t have Olt, or any other Cubs third baseman, ranked among my Top 30 third baseman entering the season, but he is definitely worth keeping an eye on as Olt could turn into a nice sleeper late in your draft.
Prediction: At the end of the day I think the Cubs want Olt to win this job and he has the talent to do so. If he does, he is worth a late draft pick as he should get 400-500 at bats during his rookie season. I project him out with a .240 AVG, 20 HR and 60 RBI. Those aren’t eye popping fantasy statistics, but his power potential alone should be worth a late draft pick.
You can go back and read previous 2014 Fantasy Baseball Previews as I break down the top battles with the: