Called up from Double-A late last night, Rangers prospect Mike Olt is making his big-league debut tonight starting at first base and batting eighth.
Olt was primarily a third baseman in the minors and projects as a good defender there long term, but the Rangers already have one of the league’s best all-around third basemen in Adrian Beltre.
As for who he’ll be replacing when he plays … that’s not clear based on tonight’s lineup because manager Ron Washington is using an odd group versus left-hander C.J. Wilson. For one thing, Mike Napoli is on the bench. Beyond that Ian Kinsler is at designated hitter, Michael Young is at second base, Geovany Soto is at catcher, and Craig Gentry is in center field.
Trying to draw any conclusions from that is tough, but Washington indicated to reporters that Olt will play mostly first base and designated hitter versus left-handed pitchers, at least initially.
Olt played exclusively third base during his first two pro seasons, but this year he’s appeared in 13 games at first base and three games in right field along with 78 games at third base. Clearly the Rangers were preparing him for a potential call-up and new defensive role, and they decided to pull the trigger last night after Olt hit .288 with 28 homers and a .977 OPS in 95 games at Double-A.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Major League Baseball has banned all transactions with Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), popularly known as the Mexican League. As of now, all 30 teams are prohibited from signing players under contract with LMB teams. The ban was issued due to Major League Baseball’s contention that “corruption” and “fraud” run rampant in the player acquisition process.
Passan describes the issues in detail, and they sound pretty compelling. The upshot: LMB clubs — which have full control over their players — are taking advantage of them, taking most if not all of the signing bonuses MLB teams give them after negotiating for their rights. Mexican teams often sign players when they’re 15 years-old so that, once they are old enough for American teams to approach them, they’re in the position to take a usurious cut.
Passan says Major League Baseball is demanding greater transparency from LMB before it’s willing to lift the ban. He also says that the MLBPA is in “lockstep” with Major League Baseball on the matter, which makes sense given that, if MLB’s claims are accurate, players are being exploited here. He also says that if LMB does not change its ways, there is a “Plan B,” though it’s not clear what that is.
There aren’t a ton of Mexican players signed by MLB teams each year, but there are enough to make this a significant issue that is worth watching.