Tonight I saw two different opinions on the upside of Jordy Mercer. First, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus tweeted that Mercer could be an “OK utility player” when asked about Mercer’s upside. Then, in Kristy Robinson’s notebook, Clint Hurdle said that he feels Mercer could eventually be a starting shortstop.
I lean closer to Hurdle’s opinion. I think Mercer can be a starting shortstop in the majors. However, I wouldn’t expect that anytime soon. Mercer has a track record of getting off to slow starts. He was promoted to Double-A in 2010, and hit for a .702 OPS in 485 at-bats. The next year he returned to Double-A and hit for an .816 OPS in 265 at-bats.
That got him promoted to Triple-A, where he hit for a .689 OPS in 226 at-bats during the second half of the 2011 season. This year he went back to Triple-A and hit for a .778 OPS in 209 at-bats. Both times he improved the second year at the level. Also in both times, he struggled in April during his second year, then went on a tear starting in mid-May, before his eventual promotion.
In his first few at-bats this year, Mercer played well. But lately he’s been seeing more playing time, and the numbers have fallen. He has a .159 average and a .532 OPS in 44 at-bats. That’s currently lower than the .566 OPS that Clint Barmes has on the year.
I still think Mercer should get playing time. He’s benefitting from playing time right now with Walker injured. But when Walker returns, Mercer should get some time at shortstop. I wouldn’t give him a lot of time. Considering his slow start history, it would be better to ease him in to the position. At this point I don’t think he’d be much of an upgrade over Clint Barmes as an everyday starter. But picking favorable matchups for him and giving him the occasional start could allow him to put up better results than he would as an everyday guy. And in the best case scenario, it could speed up the development process and help get him beyond his slow adjustment period at the new level.
Links and Notes
**The Pirates beat the Cardinals 2-1.
**Pirates Notebook: McDonald Tosses Best Outing of Second Half.
**Prospect Watch: Big Day For Holt; Kaminska Throws Six No-Hit Innings.
**Tomorrow’s Starter: Exploring the Arsenal – Lance Lynn.