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Texas notes: Olson not worried about labels

RockHounds first baseman believes he's more than just a slugger
April 21, 2015

Statistics and scouting reports force even the keenest of baseball eyes to attach the same label to Matt Olson.

The 21-year-old first baseman slugged 37 home runs at Class A Advanced Stockton last year to lead the California League, which came after he hit 23 homers in 2013 in his first full season in the Oakland Athletics' system. Since being drafted in the first round in 2012, he's hit 68 long balls, numbers put up by a budding power hitter. 

Olson understands the label -- he just doesn't think it's the best way to describe the player he is.

"You know, I've never really just classified myself as a power guy," Olson said. "It just kind of happens. I'm up there trying to put together good at-bats. I'm not up there trying to hit home runs."

Power numbers are the biggest reason he entered this season as the A's No. 1 prospect and the No. 73 overall prospect according to

He's on his way to another big power year, too. Through his first nine games with the Midland RockHounds, Olson is hitting .241 with three home runs and seven RBIs.

"Through a week, I haven't felt out of place at all," Olson said.

Olson shies away from the power-hitter moniker not because he doesn't believe in the power of his bat, but because he doesn't want to be limited as a player.

Not only did Olson hit 37 home runs last year, he drew 117 walks, which led all of Minor League Baseball, and had a .404 on-base percentage, third highest in the California League. Olson's ability to get on base even without hitting home runs is what he takes more pride in than anything. 

When asked if he's always had power, he struggled for the right words. When asked if he's always had a good eye at the plate, Olson cracked a smile and admitted it produly. 

"That's something I always had from the beginning," he said. "My dad always told me that he was jealous of my eye at the plate. Sometimes, it gets me in trouble a little bit -- if I get a call called on me that I don't think is a strike. But it's alright."

It's all about being a complete hitter for Olson. 

Taken by the Athletics with the 47th pick out of Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga., in 2012, Olson has steadily progressed in his first three seasons in the organization. This spring brought a first -- a trip to big league camp with the A's. 

Olson didn't hit as well as he would've liked -- .170 with a home run and four RBIs -- but he had plenty of chances. He got 47 at-bats in 21 games and wasn't sent to Minor League camp until the last week of Spring Training. 

Olson said he never let his mind wander, knowing full well he was headed to Double-A to start the season. His first big league camp certainly had benefits he's keeping with him at Midland. 

"Even one day up there was a learning experience for me," Olson said. "I'm grateful for the amount of time they let me stay up there, and I learned a lot. I just kind of sat back and soaked up as much as I could."

In brief

Rude welcome: The Arkansas Travelers' start was better than not only every team in the Texas League but every team in affiliated baseball. The Travs swept Frisco and Midland to open the season 6-0, and when they held their home opener on April 16, they were the only team at any level still undefeated. Frisco ruined it for Arkansas, though, winning the first two games of a three-game series. 

Smooth start: Corey Seager has enjoyed a smooth transition to Double-A. The Tulsa Drillers' shortstop, ranked by as the Los Angeles' Dodgers top prospect, hit .345 in 38 games at Double-A Chattanooga to end last season. The Dodgers switched their Double-A affiliate to Tulsa this year, but Seager hasn't been bothered by a change of scenery. The 20-year-old was hitting .500 before Monday's games with two home runs, three doubles, one triple and 11 RBIs. His 21 hits are the most at Double-A. 

Double trouble: The No. 1 pick in the 2012 Draft doesn't have as many hits as Tulsa's Corey Seager, but Carlos Correa's start has been nearly as impressive. The Houston Astros' No. 1 prospect was hitting .341 before Monday's games with eight doubles, tied for the most in Minor League Baseball. 

Troy Schulte is a contributor to