Oakland Athletics’ Non-Roster Invitee Profiles and Predictions: Matt Olson
Continuing our theme of non-roster invitees, let’s look at Oakland Athletics’ prospect Matt Olson. Olson was rated the #73 prospect overall heading into last season, and this season, he landed on MLB Pipeline’s Top 10 First Basemen list.
Earlier this month, Baseball America released their Top 10 list for prospects within the A’s system, and Olson landed sixth on the list. However, he’s the only outfielder and one of just two first basemen who made the cut, trailing corner infielder Renato Nunez by two places.
Olson heads into Spring Training with the Athletics with no real shot at making the team, but a very good chance to turn some heads and bring himself to the forefront of the coaches and front office’s minds, should they need help midseason. In the pitcher-friendly confines of the Texas League, Olson hit .249/.388/.438 for Double-A Midland last year, which for him might be considered a rough season.
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It would be easy to say at first glance that Olson is a three-true outcome hitter, considering that he’s typically a league-leader in walks, strikeouts and home runs each season. With Midland, he hit 17 homers and walked 105 times – but he also he struck out 139 times, which is a bit high for someone the Athletics could call on as early as this season.
Olson is capable of much more than just three outcomes, though. He had 37 doubles last year, in addition to 116 hits. His doubles total was third-highest in the Texas League, and he even swiped five bases. Olson isn’t a one- or two-tool player. He just tends to strike out more than most. If the team is willing to accept strikeouts in exchange for solid defense and an above-average amount of walks and home runs, Olson will be a great call-up at some point in the future.
While his defense may not be Gold Glove worthy, Olson has a reputation as a reliable first baseman. He split time evenly between first base and right field last season, learning to play the outfield regularly for the first time. That gives him a leg up in his quest for a major league roster spot, because the A’s outfield could stand to improve in left field.
Chance of Making the Club:
None. Olson spent last season at Double-A, and players rarely make the jump straight to the big leagues without at least a brief stint in Triple-A. That said, a late-season debut isn’t out of the question if the A’s are dealing with injuries, but a September call-up seems like a much more likely possibility. Olson is one of the best position players in the system, and he’s one of the few that’s close enough to warrant consideration for a major league roster spot at some point this season, but there’s no need to rush him. Don’t expect to see Olson before rosters expand, barring any catastrophes.
Prediction for Next Season:
Olson will likely start the year in Triple-A, which will give him a bit more time to focus on gaining more outfield experience and possibly cutting back his strikeout totals. Triple-A Nashville is a better environment for hitters, so it will be interesting to see what Olson will do once he’s away from the Texas League. If he plays well, the A’s would be hard-pressed to ignore him in September. If he struggles – although it’s hard to imagine he will, given his success at every level so far – the A’s will have the perfect excuse to keep him stashed in the minors for a little longer, as they work their way back towards being a contending team.
With only one month until exhibition games, it won’t be long until we get our first look in 2016 at some of the A’s best prospects, including Olson.