The Rangers are flush with high ceiling prospects. At every level you’ll find top-round draftees and highly touted Latin ballplayers, all of whom signed for big money. Perhaps the most glaring example of this impressive collection of youthful talent lies with Double-A Frisco, and more specifically, with the left side of the Roughriders’ infield. Frisco SS Jurickson Profar currently occupies the No. 1 spot in my Top 25 Fantasy Baseball Prospects for 2013 & Beyond, and deservedly dominates the Texas prospects chatter. Mike Olt, however – Profar’s neighbor as a third baseman for Frisco – is No. 19 on that list I just referenced, and he deserves his fair share of praise too.
Patience and power are Olt’s undeniable tools. He brings a savvy approach to the plate, waiting for his pitch, and when he gets that pitch he can drive it anywhere. His 28 homers across three levels in 2011 are exemplary of plus-plus power potential, and he’s already blasted six through 23 Double-A games in 2012. That power is a product of a big swing, though, and that big swing tends to whiff. Olt’s impressive .381 career OBP is offset by a plump whiff rate and a career batting average which sits at .274. Scouts doubt he’ll ever be able to rid himself of the poor average, but 35 HR potential still makes him extremely viable as a future fantasy 3B stud. The major problem here is that Adrien Beltre is sufficiently blocking Olt’s arrival. There’s been some discussion about shifting him to 1B or OF, but he’s a plus defender at the hot corner, and so far in 2012 he’s only appeared at first base once. Texas’ reluctance to move him in the field has many speculating that Olt will be used as trade bait, which certainly seems plausible. And given a different environment, Olt could be primed for his big league arrival late this season.
I’m perpetually fascinated by the tiny pitcher who throws 98. There’s something about 5-11 dude on the mound who brings it like he’s 6-4 that captures my attention. It’s why I’m rooting for Tim Lincecum to get back on track, it’s why I’m anxiously awaiting Trevor Bauer’s arrival with Arizona, and it’s why I’m drawn to Milwaukee pitching prospect, Tyler Thornburg. At 5-11, 185, the 21-year-old Thornburg relies on an unorthodox delivery to generate velocity in the mid-to-upper-90’s. He counters the heat with tricky plus changeup and a slurvy curve. The arsenal has helped him rack up some pretty impressive numbers to this point in his pro career. Through 2010 and 2011, Thornburg posted 198 K’s in 160 IP across rookie ball, Low-A and High-A. His 2.48 ERA and 1.11 WHIP during the same window ain’t bad, either. Skeptics consider him too slight to carry a full workload in the bigs. Some think his arm will end up in the ‘pen. But Thornburg is back at it in 2012, striking out 33 through 28 IP, while posting a 1.91 ERA at Double-A. Perhaps it’s time to start considering the possibility that these numbers are no low-minors fluke. Being that Milwaukee is riding with an iffy back-end to their rotation, it’s not out of the question that Thornburg could be used later on this year. It’s rather unlikely, though. But do expect to see him pitching in the bigs at some point in 2013.