BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Arizona Fall League (AFL) concludes play this weekend with Saturday’s championship game between the Surprise Saguaros and the Salt River Rafters. (The game will be telvised by the MLB Network at 2:00 PM Central.) Major League teams send their top prospects to the league, which are distributed among the six participating fall league teams. For most of the participants, it is better competition than they faced during their minor league seasons and a chance to advance their careers.
The Saguaros are comprised of prospects from the Braves, Marlins, Royals, Rays and Rangers; and are in the championship game as the representative of the West Division. One reason the Saguaros are in the championship game is the outstanding play of Ranger third base prospect, Mike Olt. Olt played in the High A class Carolina League at Myrtle Beach this past summer. His season was cut short by a collar bone broken in June. For the season, he hit .267 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs in 42 games.
The AFL presented the opportunity for Olt to make up for the lost playing time, and he has taken advantage of the opportunity in a BIG way. He’s been named the league’s player of the week in each of the last two weeks. Last week, he hit .333 with four home runs and nine RBIs. The week before, he hit .571 with a pair of home runs and eight RBIs.
Olt was taken with the 49th pick overall in the 2010 draft out of the University of Connecticut. He is listed at 6′-2″, 210. For the first six weeks of AFL play, he leads the league with 12 home runs, 39 RBIs, and a .774 slugging percentage.
There is no secret that in recent years, the Rangers have put so much emphasis on pitching in the amateur draft that the system is short of offensive players. Olt’s development then is a very good sign for Texas. He may appear to be blocked at the Major League level by Adrian Beltre, but his position could change or he could be part of a trade to strengthen another area on the big league club.
He is expected to start the 2012 season at AA Frisco.