After not playing a game at the major-league level in 2016, former UConn star Mike Olt will have a shot at the big leagues once again after signing a minor-league contract with the Boston Red Sox.
"We’re so happy for Mike. He has fought through so much and has worked so hard to get another shot at the big leagues,” UConn head coach Jim Penders said. “He’ll make the most of this opportunity back home in New England. I hope Connecticut Sox fans get to see lots of Olt's bolts landing on Landsdowne very soon.”
Olt, who is second all-time at UConn with 44 career home runs, was selected with the 49th overall pick in the 2010 draft by the Texas Rangers and was once ranked as high as the No. 22 prospect in baseball by Baseball America as recently as 2013. After being traded by the Rangers to the Cubs as part of a deal for Matt Garza in 2013, Olt was the starting third baseman for the Cubs in 2014 and the early part of 2015. After being designated for assignment by the Cubs in 2015, Olt latched on with the White Sox before spending all of last season in Padres’ minor league system.
The 28-year-old third baseman has struggled with injuries during his entire baseball career, including serious vision problems in 2013 and a broken wrist that led to him being replaced by Kris Bryant in 2015. Olt’s biggest strength is his power, though it hasn’t really shown through in the big leagues, where Olt has hit 19 home runs in 135 games and posting a .168/.250/.330 triple slash line. Last season, Olt hit .255 with a .373 on base percentage and .404 slugging percentage with five home runs for the San Antonio Missions, the Padres Double-A affiliate.
The Red Sox bring in Olt for a chance to compete with Pablo Sandoval, Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge for the third base spot, which was occupied primarily by Travis Shaw last season. After Shaw was traded to the Brewers earlier this offseason, Sandoval has emerged as the front runner due to his current contract and Holt’s value as a utility player. Nonetheless, Olt’s power at the plate and versatility in the field make him an attractive option as a potential bench piece. During his major-league career, Olt has played primarily third and first base, but broke into the majors with the Rangers playing a handful of innings in the outfield.