When Jordy Mercer was drafted in the third round of the 2008 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was described as an offensive minded shortstop. Mercer is 6′ 3″, 191 pounds, and is a tall lean shortstop, although he has the defensive skills to stick at the position. While he can play the position, ultimately his value lies with his bat, especially his power.
That power has existed throughout his career with doubles. He had 36 doubles in his first full pro season in 2009 at the high-A level, leading the Carolina League. Last year he had 31 doubles in his jump to the AA level. However, his home runs haven’t been anything to write home about, and took a serious drop in 2010. Mercer hit just three homers last year, after hitting 10 in the Carolina League in 2009. However, his power has returned this year, in a big way. Mercer currently has 19 doubles and 15 home runs with about two months remaining in the regular season. He’s already set a career high in home runs this year, and will likely double his career number of 18 heading in to the year.
Mercer’s power surge was enough to recently earn him a promotion to AAA. After hitting for a .268/.329/.487 line in 265 Altoona at-bats, Mercer started off slow. However, he’s starting to heat up lately, going 5-for-11 in his last three games, with home runs in each of his last two games. The power is important for Mercer, as he’s not an average/on-base percentage guy. He’s more of a .260-.270 hitter, with a .330 OBP. His power is the difference between a starter and a bench player.
Looking at his numbers, Mercer profiles a bit like a Jhonny Peralta type shortstop. He’s not going to be the best defensive option, and he may eventually have to move to third base later in his career, but he does have some value with the ability to hit 15-20 homers a year. The fact that he’s continued to hit homers at the AAA level is a good sign. I’ve seen Mercer at least 40 times the last few years. His power is definitely legit, with a long, smooth swing that kind of resembles the swing of Adam LaRoche. It does leave a hole in his swing on low-and-away breaking balls, although that seems to be his only weakness, as his strikeout numbers aren’t horrible. If he can maintain his power, he could challenge to be the starter in Pittsburgh in the next year or two.