The former Oxford Hills’ standout is rated the second-best Division II prospect by Baseball America.
Like a seven-year-old whose anticipation for Christmas is triggered by the aroma of the Thanksgiving turkey, Garrett Olson can now almost taste his dream.
The college baseball regular season is winding down. The weather is getting warmer. And baseball’s June amateur draft is getting closer by the minute.
“I’ve been looking forward to it, been waiting for it. I can’t wait to get there,” said Olson. “I’m a little antsy in anticipation.”
Fortunately for the former Oxford Hills star, there’s plenty to distract him from the countdown to Draft Day in June. His Franklin Pierce Ravens are ranked 16th in the nation in Division II college baseball. And Olson, the second-highest rated prospect in all of D-II according to Baseball America and the most-touted player to come out of Franklin Pierce, is keeping himself and his coach, Jayson King, busy fielding inquiries from Major League scouts.
“I think two things set him apart,” King said. “One is he’s so athletic. He can do so many things on a baseball field. Plus I think the type of personality he has – he never takes plays off, the same way that he works at his game – I think those two things just set him apart from the rest.”
“It gets busy and a little hectic,” Olson said, “but you’ve got to go through it. It’s fun, except for dealing with all of the paper work.”
Final exams at Franklin Pierce are still a couple of weeks away, but Olson, a junior, has been taking 200-question psychological and IQ exams for the scouts and filling out pages of background information about himself for the scouts.
It’s nothing the 6-foot-2, 215-pound consensus All-American didn’t expect. Former teammates Shawn Hayes and Eric Cavers, another Oxford Hills product, were drafted out of Franklin Pierce.
“I saw (Cavers) get drafted and I thought, That’s my dream,'” Olson said. “Each year, I’ve gotten myself a little closer and closer.”
He’s also been able to compare notes with roomates Bryan Duplissie and Elliott Shea, who are likely to be drafted as well. But they don’t dwell on their common goal of playing professionally, Olson said.
“We’re just having fun, going out and playing ball,” he said. “We got off to a great start and we’ve already set the school record for wins in a season. It’s not that hard to go out and play every day.”
But, as his coach pointed out, Olson does play hard, and well, every day. He went into Saturday batting .362, with 8 home runs, 16 stolen bases, and team-highs in RBIs (46), hits (63) total bases (111), slugging percentage (.638).
Obviously, Olson’s offensive numbers haven’t suffered from a defensive switch. After starting every game at third for the Ravens his freshman and sophomore years, he moved to shortstop, a position he played his senior year at Oxford Hills.
“He’s been phenomenal for us at shortstop. He’s gotten a lot of chances. I think he leads the league,” King said. “He’s just so athletic. He makes every play.”
Olson said he was glad to make the move so that the Ravens could get a promising freshman into the lineup at third, and liked the added bonus being able to show his range and versatility to potential pro suitors.
The debate isn’t whether Olson has the tools to be drafted, but in what round (he’s projected somewhere between Round 3 and Round 8) and for what position (third base, shortstop, outfield and catcher have all been mentioned as possibilities).
Rated No. 95 in Baseball America’s Top 100 College Prospects list, Olson said he doesn’t think he’d be higher if he’d played Division I ball or if he’d gone to school outside of New England.
“Probably if I went anywhere else, I don’t think I would have developed the way I have,” Olson said. “We’ve got great training facilities, a great field, great coach, great program.”
King, who has had six of his players drafted in the last five years, and could have another four or five added to that list this year, credits Olson with taking advantage of those assets and making the scouts notice him.
“He’s got the total package,” he said. “He’s a five-tool player. Anyone that doesn’t like him is looking for a reason not to like him.”