Cubs Prospects—Mike Olt, Yoanner Negrin

Mike Olt could be Cubs third baseman in 2014.

Northsiders Report continues its prospects series with third baseman Mike Olt and RHP Yoanner Negrin. Olt is looking to rebound from 2013 and hopes to be the Cubs starting third baseman by season's end. Negrin is one of eight Cubans the Cubs have in their minors and provides pitching depth at the upper levels.

Mike Olt, 3B
Age: 25 (8/27/1988)
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 210

2013 Teams: Frisco RoughRiders, Texas League, (AA); Round Rock Express, Pacific Coast League, (AAA); Iowa Cubs, Pacific Coast League (AAA).

Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—# 9

How acquired—Traded by Rangers with C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, and Neil Ramirez for Matt Garza on July 22, 2013

Prior to Cubs
A three-time all-stater at Branford High School, CN, Olt led his team to the state championship in 2006 and his success as a prep earned him a scholarship to Connecticut. Olt made a name for himself as a freshman, breaking the school record with 61 RBI while hitting .318 and a team-best .577 slugging percentage in 54 starts. An injury his sophomore year limited Olt to just 38 games but he still hit .308 with 8 HR and 40 RBI. He was back to form his junior season batting .318/.401/.659 with 23 HR and 76 RBI, and won the inaugural Big East Home Run Derby. He left U-Conn as the school's all-time home run leader.

The Rangers used the 49th overall pick on Olt and he debuted in the Northwest League with Spokane, hitting .293/.390/.464 with 9 HR and 43 RBI in 69 games. Olt jumped onto the national prospect scene in 2011 after hitting .267/.387.504 in the Carolina League for Myrtle Beach. He dominated the Arizona Fall League, earning player of the week honors twice and was named to the AFL All-Prospect team.

Olt continued his terror in the Texas League in 2012 as the best defensive third baseman in the Rangers' system hit .288/.398/.579 with 28 HR and 82 RBI. He was named to the Texas League post-season and mid-season all-star teams and was rated one of the top prospects in baseball. The Cubs tried to trade for Olt during the deadline in July of 2012 but were told he was an untouchable. Olt made his pro debut on Aug. 2 for the Rangers and played in 16 games, going 5-40 with 13 strikeouts.

2013 Season
Olt's career went into a tailspin in 2013 after getting hit with a pitch in the head during a winter league game. Olt began experiencing eye problems and it was finally discovered that one of the ducts in his right eye was not producing tears, making his eye dry and causing problems seeing the ball. He missed over a month and rejoined the AAA squad in early June, and hit .247 with 10 homers in 45 games before being traded to the Cubs. Olt played 39 games in AAA Iowa after the trade and recently admitted he was still having eye problems throughout the season, especially when he arrived in Iowa and his allergies flared up. He hit .168/.276/.275 with 37 strikeouts in 39 games for the I-Cubs.

2014 Outlook
Olt has an outside chance to leave spring training as the Cubs starting third baseman but he should get a shot at the hot corner at Wrigley if he can put his eye problems of 2013 behind him. After being stuck behind Adrian Beltre in the Rangers system, Olt has the best opportunity of his career as the platoon of Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy are ahead of him on the depth chart. He participated in the Cubs Rookie Development Program and told reporters his eye problems were behind. him. The Cubs are hoping Olt returns to his old habits of hitting homers and picking grounders.



Yoanner Negrin, P
Age 29 (4/29/1984)
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 190

2013 Team: Iowa Cubs, Pacific Coast League. (AAA)

Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—Not rated

How acquired—Signed as a free agent on July 25, 2011

Prior to Cubs
Negrin spent four seasons with Matanzas in the Cuban Serie Nacional, pitching in 99 games with a 4.31 ERA, 12 saves, and a 22-24 record as both a starter and reliever. His best year was 2007-08 when he was among the league leaders in wins and complete games after going 11-5 with a 3.37 ERA. Negrin had seven saves and a 4.91 ERA in 36.2 innings in his final season in 2008-09. Negrin defected from Cuba with Yaniel Cabezas, as both Cubs prospects were represented by Carlos Perez at the time.

Cubs Career
Signed in July of 2011, the right-hander made seven relief appearances at Mesa, Peoria and Daytona with 18 Ks in 13 innings in his first pro season. The Cubs loaned him to Olmecas de Tabasco in the Mexican League for the start of the 2012 season. Negrin made 16 starts, pitching in 24 games and tossing 104 innings going 7-6 with a 3.12 ERA. He walked 51, fanned 78, and threw nine wild pitches. After the Mexican League season, he made a start at Tennessee (5IP, 1H 5K) and three at AAA Iowa (15IP, 6ER, 9K).

2013 Season
Negrin started the season playing for Spain in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, and after spring training, spent the year at AAA Iowa, appearing in 34 games. Beginning the season in the bullpen, he worked 11 scoreless innings to start the year and earned his first pro save on May 19. As a reliever he had a 11.62 K/9 and 1.88 BB/9. He moved into the starting rotation in late May and earned his first AAA win on June 10. Negrin went back to the bullpen in early July for a two-week stretch and finished the season making eight starts. He threw 108 innings, going 4-7 with a 4.17 ERA to go along with 118 K. He ended the year making 13 starts in the Venezuelan Winter league for Caracas, going 4-7 with a 4.06 ERA in 62 innings.

2014 Outlook
Negrin showed his versatility taking the ball as a starter and working out of the bullpen for the I-Cubs, and was effective in both roles. He uses a variety of arm angles, including sidearm, and has a fastball in the low 90s that can reach 95 when needed. Negrin will turn 30 in April so his best days are probably behind him, but he provides the Cubs emergency depth at AAA.



Rest of the O's

Dalfis Ortiz, 2B— Signed as an free agent on March 2, 2012, Ortiz made his debut June 20 and played in 40 games in the Dominican Summer League. He hit .261/.400/.307 and had as many walks 21 as strikeouts. On defense, Ortiz split his time between second and third, committing five errors in 108 chances. The 22-year-old was one of the best hitters in the DSL in 2013 batting .343/.416/.506 with nine triples and 14 stolen bases in 47 games. The switch-hitter earned DSL all-star honors and continued to show his patience at the plate with 25 walks and 23 strikeouts in 205 plate appearances. He finished second in the league in average and slugging, and tied for second with nine triples.

Allen Oaks, RHP—Signed as a free agent from the independent Frontier League after the season by the Cubs, Oaks, 25, played for three seasons in the Marlins organization after being selected in the 8th round in 2012 out of the University of Michigan. Oaks only threw 90 innings in his minor league career, reaching AA Jacksonville in 2012 before his release. He appeared in 37 games in the Frontier League in 2013 going 2-4 with a 1.99 ERA and 14 saves.

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