Mike Olt, the Texas Rangers' top power-hitting prospect, learned last season there's a dramatic difference between major league pitching and Double-A pitching.
And it goes beyond talent.
Rated among the top 25 prospects in the minors, according to Baseball America, the second-highest-rated third base prospect, Olt hit .152 in a brief stint with the Rangers last season.
Olt slammed 28 home runs in only 354 at bats at Double-A Frisco last season but didn't drive a ball over the wall in 33 big league at-bats.
“If you have a weakness in Double-A, their pitching coach will point it out, but it isn't always executed by the pitchers,” Olt said. “At lower levels you know at some point you'll probably get a fastball middle (part of the plate) in. In the majors you may never get a fastball middle in.”
Olt said the brief major league audition was invaluable.
“It was a really cool experience, something that definitely will help me this year,” Olt said. “I learned a lot up there. They have a great corps of guys that kind of took me under their wings and taught me a lot.”
Veterans taught him it's beneficial to have a regular routine, whether it's his pregame batting practice approach or a pregame snack.
“I'd just to get in the cage at some point and work on my swing,” Olt said. “But talking to those guys, they said you really need a routine because when you're struggling it's something you can fall back on.”
A first-round draft pick out of the University of Connecticut three years ago, Olt is off to a slow start (batting .102) in his first taste of Triple-A with Round Rock, which played a doubleheader against the RedHawks on Thursday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
“He's striking out a lot,” said Round Rock manager Bobby Jones. “To me, he's taking a lot of pitches he should be hitting. I think he's trying to be too fine. He's in a little bit of funk, but it's early. It's just a matter of making adjustments. He'll be fine.”