Oakland Athletics’ Prospect to Watch in 2016: First Baseman/Outfielder Matt Olson
Many of the Oakland Athletics’ prospects have been getting a lot of media attention due to their talent and success in the minor leagues. However, one player who has flown under the radar for much of his time in the minors is first baseman Matt Olson. This is probably due to the fact that he was drafted in 2012 behind then-top shortstop prospects Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson. However, since both Russell and Robertson are no longer with the Athletics’ organization, Olson’s powerful bat is finally getting him noticed.
This week, MLB.com columnist Jim Callis ranked Olson fifth among the Top 10 first base prospects to watch this upcoming season. This recognition is due to his production at the plate. Over three full seasons in the minors, Olson has hit a total of 77 home runs with 37 of those coming in 2014. Additionally, in 2015, Olson hit a career high of 37 doubles. Lastly, Olson is patient at the plate and tends to draw a lot of walks. In 2015, he walked 105 times in 133 games, while in 2014 he walked 117 times in 138 games.
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Besides his production at the plate, Olson is beginning to prove that he can be a versatile fielder as well. For most of his baseball career, Olson has played first base. However, this past season, Oakland’s Triple-A team, the Nashville Sounds, put Olson in right field for 59 games. If he can successfully master an outfield position, his versatility will be valuable in the future – especially for a team like the Oakland Athletics.
Each season, Olson has improved and moved one rung up the minor league ladder, just as a successful first round draft pick should. This year, he will move up once again – this time to Triple-A. As he continues to progress toward the Major Leagues, Olson’s talent will be tested at this tougher level and it will allow him to gain more experience against better ballplayers.
There has been some talk about the possibility of Olson making his MLB debut in 2016. It is definitely possible. However, as of right now, it does not seem as though there is an obvious spot on the A’s 40-man roster for Olson. With Yonder Alonso and Mark Canha covering first and a handful of other people assigned to the corner outfield positions, it is unlikely that fans will see Olson up in Oakland until September 2016. Unless the outfielders are plagued with injuries, the Athletics will likely keep Olson in Triple-A until they can add him to the expanded roster in the fall.
Olson has been invited as a non-roster invitee to the Oakland Athletics’ spring training this year. This will be his third time attending spring camp with the A’s. In 2015, Olson did not do a good job at showing off his offensive abilities while with the Athletics in Arizona. He only batted .170 with 15 strikeouts in 21 games played. This spring, Olson needs prove that his bat can be powerful at the major league level if he wants to be called up this season.