Olt And Mendonca Try New Positions
ARLINGTON — Perhaps the deepest position in the Rangers farm system is third base, the same position that is likely to be anchored by Adrian Beltre for the next five seasons.
For Mike Olt and Tommy Mendonca, power hitters at the hot corner, third base might become a thing of the past. The two prospects, who will be in big league camp for the first time as non-roster invitees, will be worked at new positions this spring.
Olt will be asked to learn to play first base and possibly a little left field, though he likely will be a third baseman at Double-A Frisco to start 2012. Mendonca's move is to catcher, and the Rangers are looking for it to become his permanent position.
The Rangers will be OK if he ends up back at third base or even plays some at first, but they see opportunity with Mendonca behind the plate. The catch? Mendonca has never played the position, though the Rangers gave him a trial run in November.
"You look at lefthanded catchers that have power from the left side, who are they?" general manager Jon Daniels said. "You can count them on one hand. He profiles pretty well there—his body type, his arm strength. If he can catch, his bat has a chance to be a little bit of a separator."
Olt is a plus defender at third base, so he's not experimenting at first because he doesn't have a position.
After a huge Arizona Fall League, the Rangers believe now is the time to see how versatile Olt can be.
"Just because we have Adrian Beltre doesn't mean we have to trade Mike Olt," Daniels said. "He's an athlete. It's not a commentary on his play at third base. He just happens to have a Gold Glove winner in front of him."
• The Rangers united Chad Tracy with his father, Colorado manager Jim Tracy, when they shipped him to the Rockies for righthander Greg Reynolds. In Reynolds, who was assigned to Triple-A Round Rock, the Rangers acquired the second overall pick from the 2006 draft who has been slow to return from an arm injury.
• Shortstop Jurickson Profar, the South Atlantic League player of the year last season, is a year away from an invitation to big league camp, but he will be part of an early camp for minor leaguers and will get to play in Cactus League games as a reserve. He did the same thing last year and made a favorable impression on manager Ron Washington.