Athletics Have High Hopes For Olson
OAKLAND—When Georgia high schooler Matt Olson and the Athletics try to look into the future, they both see the same thing: Olson hitting in the middle of the A's lineup.
"I think that's what most guys are looking at me as: to be a middle-of-the-order type bat," Olson said. "I'm excited to fine-tune my swing and be who they want me to be."
The A's made Olson the 47th overall pick in the draft, in perhaps the most stark departure from the Moneyball era. In choosing shortstop Addison Russell at No. 11, projected third baseman Daniel Robertson at 34 and Olson at 47, the A's went for three potential big-time hitters rather than shopping for high on-base percentage players.
"Very Oakland A's-like," quipped scouting director Eric Kubota with a smile.
Olson hit .407 with 11 home runs and 51 RBIs in 37 games for Parkview High in Lilburn, Ga., this spring, as his team was rated tops in the nation by Baseball America. He said that he got off to a poor start when he put too much pressure on himself to perform. Plus, he had already built quite a reputation in the area after hitting 13 home runs as a sophomore and 17 as a junior. So pitchers were less likely to give him much to hit.
His father, Scott, pitched for Wake Forest and shepherded young Matt through his early years. "I complained about him dragging me off to the cages when I was 9 or 10 and wanted to stay home and play video games, but I'm thankful for it now," he said.
Olson said he really fell in love with the game his sophomore year, and he started weight training and becoming serious about his potential. The A's intend to get the 6-foot-5, 225-pounder into intense training to further develop his strength.
"The power's going to come as he gets bigger and stronger," Kubota said. "But he hits with power now. Just a very advanced bat with excellent bat speed. We see him as one of the best high-school bats in the country."
Olson has learned to hit to all fields and understands that will be important to his future success.
Olson pitched in high school, and he probably has the arm to play outfield. He said he would be happy to make the move, and that scouts from other teams had suggested that might be his future. Kubota says the A's plan to keep him at first base for now. He just wants to see that big bat get into action.
• Righthander Sean Doolittle made the remarkable jump from high Class A, through Double-A and Triple-A to the majors in just two months. Doolittle converted from first base to reliever and soared through the minors, making his major league debut on June 5 and striking out the first three Rangers hitters he faced.
• Righthander Sean Murphy pitched 6 1⁄3 perfect innings for high Class A Stockton on May 23 against Visalia. The perfect game bid ended on an error, and the first hit came moments later in what would eventually turn into a 9-2 Visalia win.