Aug. 2, 2012
For former and current Huskies, it has been a time for change over the last several weeks. One former UConn baseball player is set to make his Major League debut, while another has resurrected his career in the minor leagues. Meanwhile, one recent MLB draft pick has elected to return for his senior season and will spend the remaining days of summer playing ball on the Cape.
In just over two years in the minors, former University of Connecticut third baseman Mike Olt has been called up to make his debut in Major League Baseball by the Texas Rangers. Olt, who was playing at Double-A Frisco, had his contract purchased by the big league club late Wednesday night.
With his call-up, Olt becomes the 12th UConn baseball player to reach the majors and the first to debut since left-handed pitcher Jesse Carlson in 2008. Olt will also be the first Husky to appear in a MLB game this season and continues a streak of 23-consecutive years that a player from Connecticut has played in the big leagues, dating back to the debut of righty Charles Nagy in 1990. The last field player from UConn to appear in the majors was catcher Brian Esposito in 2010.
"We're so excited for Mike," said Connecticut head coach Jim Penders. "He is a great example of what our program is all about and I'm glad his hard work and dedication are being rewarded."
For the Frisco RoughRiders of the Texas League, Olt batted .288, while leading the league in home runs (28), slugging percentage (.579) and OPS (.977). He also ranks second with 82 runs batted in to go with 65 runs, 17 doubles and a .398 on-base percentage.
Olt made previous stops in Myrtle Beach (A-Adv.), Spokane (A-S.S.) and with the AZL Rangers (Rook.) as well as a stint in the Arizona Fall League in 2011. He was drafted by Texas with the 49th overall selection as a first round supplementary pick in 2010, making him the first Husky taken in the first round since Nagy in 1988.
"He woke his mom and dad to tell them to pack for Texas early this morning," continued Penders. "He and his brother Brad got them flights to Dallas for his debut tonight. That is the type of son they have raised."
The Rangers are at home tonight to host division rival Los Angeles at 8:05 pm ET. Olt is expected to make his major league debut at first base against former Texas lefty C.J. Wilson (9-7, 2.88). The Rangers are currently four games ahead of the Angels for the AL West Division lead with a 60-43 record and are coming off an 11-10 walk-off victory in 10 innings on Wednesday night.
Earlier this spring, Mike Tarsi was released by the Minnesota Twins and was a pitcher without a mound until the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic Baseball (Ind.) League picked him up.
Tarsi, a lefty from Danbury who pitched for UConn from 2005-2007, pitched to a 3-0 record and 4.22 record for the New Britain Rockcats (AA) in 2011 and spent a two-game stint with the Rochester Red Wings (AAA), where he tossed three hitless-innings.
In Bridgeport, Tarsi appeared in 13 games, two of which were starts. Through 34.2 innings, he posted a 1-0 record to go with a 2.08 ERA and struck out 25 batters, while walking just six.
Tarsi returned to AA last month after having his contract purchased by the Atlanta Braves and was assigned to Mississippi of the Southern League.
During the MLB First Year Draft, LJ Mazzilli was selected in the ninth round with the 280th overall pick by the Minnesota Twins. On Friday, July 13, the draft's signing deadline came and went and Mazzilli decided against a contract with the Twins and chose to return for his senior season at Connecticut.
Mazzilli was a First Team All-BIG EAST selection after leading UConn with a .339 batting average in 2012. He hit nine home runs, drove in 38 runs and stole 16 bases. Mazzilli was named to the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team after batting .500 (8-for-16) with a pair of steals. In the offseason, he was honored as a NEIBA All-Star and was named to the ABCA Regional Second Team.
Mazzilli returned to the Cape League, where he spent the past two summers with the Wareham Gatemen, on July 24 when he made his debut with the Bourne Braves. In six games of action, he is batting .304 (7-for-23) with a home run and four RBI. Mazzilli's lone homer was a solo shot in a 3-for-4 performance at Brewster on July 26.
Minor League Notes:
- After receiving a promotion to the Winston-Salem (CHW) Dash (A-Adv.) righty Kevin Vance has produced a 1.80 ERA and struck out six batters in five innings across his first three appearances
- Between July 20 and 30, catcher Brian Esposito of the Iowa Cubs (AAA) went 9-for-16 to lift his average to .253