Though he has not remotely made the same impact on his team as Manny Machado has with the Baltimore Orioles, Mike Olt provides the Texas Rangers with a defensively sound corner infielder with power who is getting his Major League indoctrination in the midst of a pennant race.
A supplemental first round selection (49th overall) out of the University of Connecticut in 2010, Olt is most comfortable at third base, but he also proficiently plays first base and is working with Rangers outfield instructor Gary Pettis in right field.
With Adrian Beltre, who has a superb glove at third base, signed through 2015, first base might be Olt’s spot with the Rangers for several seasons. The 23-year-old right-handed hitter is No. 32 on MLB’s Top 100 Prospects List and was ranked 11th overall on Baseball America’s 2012 Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects List.
Including Olt, here are five of the best third base prospects in baseball:
With Mike Napoli currently on the 15-day disabled list, the Rangers needed more pop in their lineup. Olt is 4-for-18 (.222) and has yet to hit his first Major League home run since his call up earlier this month, but he belted 28 home runs and knocked in 84 at Double-A Frisco after slugging 15 home runs between two low-level minor league affiliates in 2011.
Texas has used the left-handed hitting Mitch Moreland and the right-handed hitting Michael Young at first base and DH. Olt gives manager Ron Washington another option at both spots, and he can give Beltre a breather at third base.
A supplemental first rounder (44th overall) out of high school in 2010, the 20-year-old Castellanos is blocked at third base by Miguel Cabrera, so he is making the transition to the outfield and recently spent three days working with former Tigers great and Hall of Fame right fielder Al Kaline.
Regarded as the Tigers’ top prospect by MLB.com, and ranked No. 12 on Baseball America’s 2012 Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects List, Castellanos was the Futures Game MVP this summer and has a .289 average with seven home runs and 23 RBI at Double-A Erie after hitting .405 with a 1.015 OPS in 243 plate appearances at advanced Single-A Lakeland earlier this season.
Last season at advanced Single-A Modesto in the hitter’s friendly California League, Arenado led the minors with 122 RBI to accompany his 22 home runs and a .349 average. Regardless of where he plays, the 21-year-old Arenado seems to rake.
Named the MVP of the 2011 Arizona Fall League and a second round pick of the Rockies in 2009, Arenado is batting .274 with 10 home runs and 48 RBI at Double-A Tulsa this season. A right-handed hitter who is proficient at third base, Arenado is No. 17 on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects List and was rated No. 17 on Baseball America’s 2012 mid-season list.
The 19-year-old Sano has received a lot of media attention this summer regarding his presence in a documentary called “Ballplayer: Pelotero” which examines the exploitation of young baseball players in the Dominican Republic and was produced by Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.
He continues to generate awareness about his on-field performance, too. Rated as the 18th best prospect in baseball by MLB.com, and placed at No. 22 on Baseball America’s mid-season top 50 list, Sano has 25 home runs and 92 RBI with a .255 average at low Single-A Beloit this season.
A second round pick out of West Virginia University in 2010, the 23-year-old Gyorko is on the cusp of the majors. He is batting .339 with 18 home runs, 68 RBI, 23 doubles and a .972 OPS in 313 at-bats at Triple-A Tucson.
The Padres might deal Headley in the off-season, or move him to the outfield, where he has played before. Gyorko has a chance to become the starting third baseman in San Diego’s 2013 opening day lineup.