Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 6/17/11

PLAYER PROFILE: JORDY MERCER

In light of Jordy Mercer’s 12th homer of the year tonight, I figured I would point out just how good he has been at the plate lately.  Mercer got off to a rough start in April, with a .154/.233/.346 line in 78 at-bats.  He did manage to hit four homers, which was one more than he hit in 485 at-bats in the entire 2010 season at the AA level.  However, the homers were about the only thing he was hitting.

Mercer started to heat up in May, and really hasn’t cooled down.  Since the month of April ended, Mercer has combined for a .317/.371/.549 line in 164 at-bats.  In 2010, Mercer hit for a .282/.329/.373 line.  The average was good, but he wasn’t getting on base, and wasn’t hitting for power at all.  So is this hot streak just a fluke, or is Mercer finally showing the potential that got him the label as an offensive minded shortstop out of the 2008 draft?

All signs point to this being legit.  First of all, Mercer has cut down on his strikeout numbers over the last few years.  In 2009 he had an 18% strikeout rate in high-A.  Last year he saw that drop to 14%.  This year it’s down to 12%.  Not only is Mercer avoiding strikeouts, he’s also seen his walk rate jump to 7.6%.  That’s not phenomenal, although it’s better than the 5.8% from 2010, and slightly better than the 7.1% in 2009.  The big thing is his BABIP.  Mercer had a .324 BABIP in 2010, when he hit for a .282 average.  This year his BABIP is just .260 for the season, and .326 during his hot streak.

Mercer isn’t hitting for a .317 average since April because he’s been lucky.  His BABIP shows that this number is legit, as it’s in line with his 2010 numbers.  His walks have been up this year, and his strikeouts are very low, giving credit to his strong on-base percentage.  The big thing with Mercer is the power.  He’s got 12 homers in 242 at-bats.  He hit 13 homers in 998 at-bats between 2009 and 2010.  He’s got half of the at-bats he had last year, and at his current pace, with 485 at-bats, he’s looking at 24 homers and 34 doubles on the year.  Considering that he can play strong enough defense to stick at shortstop, these numbers really improve his prospect status, assuming they’re legit.  And all signs point to them being legit.

DAILY SUMMARY

Top Pitcher: Zack Von Rosenberg, RHP (3-4, 6.29) – 5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR

Top Hitter: Jordy Mercer, SS (.264) – 2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI

Home Runs: Jordy Mercer (12)

AAA: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS (33-35)

Hernandez went 3-for-4 with two doubles.

Box Score

Result: Rochester 7, Indianapolis 4

Starting Pitcher: Rudy Owens, LHP (6-5, 5.00) – 5.0 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Gorkys Hernandez, CF (.274) – 3-for-4, 2 2B

Other Notable Performers

John Bowker, 1B (.331) – 2-for-4, SB

Matt Hague, 3B (.297) – 2-for-4, 2B

Chase d’Arnaud, SS (.275) – 1-for-4, 2B, BB, 2 RBI

Game Notes: Owens left in the sixth inning with the bases loaded, and all three runners scored with Justin Thomas on the mound.  Indianapolis scored three runs in the ninth inning, with Chase d’Arnaud hitting a two RBI double, but that was the extent of the comeback. Gorkys Hernandez had a big night at the plate, but continued his poor base running.  According to Scott McCauley, Hernandez has been picked off six times this year, and was caught stealing tonight by a catcher who was 2-for-17.

AA: ALTOONA CURVE (33-33)

Mercer hit his 12th homer of the year.

Box Score

Result: Harrisburg 8, Altoona 4

Starting Pitcher: Aaron Pribanic, RHP (5-4, 3.57) – 4.2 IP, 14 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Jordy Mercer, SS (.264) – 2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI

Other Notable Performers

Starling Marte, CF (.329) – 2-for-5, R

Brock Holt, 2B (.295) – 2-for-5, 2B

Jeremy Farrell, 3B (.295) – 2-for-4, RBI

Tim Alderson, RHP (2.84) – 2.1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

Michael Crotta, RHP (0.00) – 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

Game Notes: Mercer’s homer was his 12th of the year, tying him with Jarek Cunningham for the most in the organization this year.  Michael Crotta started his rehab work with Altoona, and was sitting 93-95 MPH, according to Cory Giger.  Aaron Pribanic was ejected for throwing behind a batter right after a hard slide in to Mercer.

A+: BRADENTON MARAUDERS (27-40)

Bradenton was off today for their All-Star break.

A: WEST VIRGINIA POWER (34-33)

Von Rosenberg allowed two runs in 5.2 innings pitched.

Box Score

Result: West Virginia 9, Lakewood 4

Starting Pitcher: Zack Von Rosenberg, RHP (3-4, 6.29) – 5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR

Top Hitter: Drew Maggi, SS (.248) – 4-for-5, SB, RBI

Other Notable Performers

Trent Stevenson, RHP (6.15) – 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HR

Victor Black, RHP (0.00) – 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0 HR

Mel Rojas Jr., CF (.251) – 2-for-5, SB, R

Game Notes: Rojas Jr. stole his 14th base of the season.  Maggi stole his 13th base of the year, and was hitting for a .306/.389/.452 line in 62 at-bats in June heading in to tonight.  Zack Von Rosenberg has gone at least five innings with two or fewer earned runs in four of his last five starts.

A-: STATE COLLEGE SPIKES (0-1)

Kingham was roughed up in his State College debut.

Box Score

Result: Williamsport 7, State College 0

Starting Pitcher: Nick Kingham, RHP (0-1, 15.00) – 3.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 HR

Top Hitter: Samuel Gonzalez, C (.500) – 2-for-4, 2B

Other Notable Performers

Joely Rodriguez, LHP (0.00) – 2.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

Vincent Payne, RHP (0.00) – 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Carlos Mesa, RF (.500) – 2-for-4

Taylor Lewis, CF (.333) – 1-for-3, 2 BB

Game Notes: Joely Rodriguez is the scheduled starter next Tuesday, so no word yet if that will change, or if tonight’s outing just replaced his normal bullpen work.  Carlos Mesa was added to the State College roster today.  He is a recent signing for the Pirates out of Cuba.  2011 10th round pick Taylor Lewis got his first pro hit.

RK: DSL Pirates (9-4)

The DSL game wasn’t posted last night.

RK: VSL Pirates (18-10)

Box Score

Result: Pirates 8, Tigers 4

Starting Pitcher: Francisco Vilchez, RHP (5-1, 2.86) – 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Jordan Galvez, 2B (.344) – 3-for-4, R

Other Notable Performers

Edgard Munoz, LF (.360) – 2-for-4, BB, RBI

Dilson Herrera, 3B (.303) – 2-for-5, 2 RBI

Game Notes: Dilson Herrera might be heating up again after a mini slump.  The shortstop, signed for $220 K last year, has been hitting for a .240/.304/.340 line in 49 at-bats in June, although he’s 3-for-7 in his last two games.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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