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Mike Olt Is Learning First Base, Not A First Baseman

Another year, another new position for Rangers prospect Mike Olt. For now, at least. Olt has been asked to play first base during spring training with the Rangers, even making his Cactus League debut at first on Sunday. This is, of course, part of an effort by the Rangers brass to either have Olt learn a new position so that he can contribute with the Rangers or, as Adam Morris tweeted, try to convince other clubs that the Rangers don't have to trade him.

Olt, who played shortstop while attending the University of Connecticut, shifted to third base, where, according to Baseball America, he is a plus defender.

Plus defenders at third are quite the nice commodity -- especially ones that can hit for power, like Olt can. Unfortunately for Olt, the Rangers have one of the best third basemen in the game signed to a longterm contract, in the form of Adrian Beltre.

As such, the Rangers are left with a few choices with Olt. Playing third base for the Rangers isn't really an option with Beltre signed longterm, so Olt either has to learn a new position, such as first base or left field, or the Rangers have to trade him... eventually.

Again per Baseball America, Olt projects as an average hitter. An average hitter is not ideally what you'd like to see at first base. Olt's career minor league numbers tend to reflect that as well, as Olt has hit to the tune ofr .279/.386/.482 in 517 minor league at bats, mostly between Spokane and Myrtle Beach.

Olt's maximal value resides at third base, where he is projected as a plus defender. With only two third basemen in the league last year above a 4 WAR, it seems likely that Olt's name will be one of the first to come up in trade talks this summer.

Of course, the Rangers don't have to trade Olt, especially if they feel his value will only continue to rise. It's just far more likely that Olt will play third base for another team than ever playing first base for the Rangers -- and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.