Matt Olson is ranked as the Oakland Athletics #1 prospect, and after the season he had in Stockton last year, this should hardly come as a surprise. Olson hit 37 bombs in High-A ball, while also driving in 97 runs. Those are the immediate attention grabbers, but as an A’s prospect he also has a knack for getting on base. Last season his OBP was an astounding .404 as Olson drew 117 walks. While the slugger struck out 137 times, that number is down from his 2013 total of 148, and he held that lower number of K’s in 76 more plate appearances.
MLB Pipeline says of Olson, “[he] has a quick and easy swing that gives him the potential to hit for average as well as power. His swing does have a tendency to get long, making him prone to strikeouts. Olson is a well-below-average runner, which contributed to the A’s moving him across the diamond from his high school position of third base. Olson has good hands and he looks like he could develop into an excellent defensive first baseman.”
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By the looks of it, Pipeline is projecting a very solid MLB player, which funny enough is what Baseball Prospectus says about the first baseman. They list his strengths as, “Patient approach at the plate; pairs well with short swing to the ball; big and strong build; plus raw power which can play up at times in game; overall defensive game is solid at first base” while his weakness is his long swing and his patient approach, which could lead to Matt Olson being “overly passive” at the plate.
From the 2015 Baseball Prospectus book, they list Jon Singleton (Astros), Kyle Blanks and Anthony Rizzo as comparable players. We received a taste of the player that Blanks is last season in his brief stint with Oakland, and Singleton struggled in his first taste of major league ball, but Rizzo is an interesting selection here.
Matt Olson is entering his age 21 season, and has already shown great plate discipline and tremendous power. Rizzo is currently 25, and has been in the majors for parts of the past four seasons, including full seasons in each of the last two. While Rizzo struggled in 2013 with a batting average of .233 and an OBP of .323, he did hit 23 homers while driving in 80 runs. Last season the Cubs first baseman hit 32 bombs, while batting .286 and getting on base at a .386 clip.He also struck out 116 times. Those numbers are fairly similar to what Matt Olson put up last season in the minors.
We should get a better grasp of the type of player Olson will be after he gets some time in Double-A. He’ll be facing stiffer competition, and won’t be aided by the notoriously hitter-friendly California League which will provide a big test for the lefty.
Matt Olson will be the most watched prospect in the A’s farm system this season, and we’re all hoping we can continue to watch him hit round-trippers for years to come.