I am counting down my personal list of the top 25 Pirate prospects. You can follow the countdown here, or by clicking on the “Top 25 Prospects” link in the site header.
Date of Birth: 8/27/1986
Weight: 175 pounds
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2008 (Oklahoma State University)
Jordy Mercer had a breakout season in his junior year at Oklahoma State, hitting .330/.373/.542. After the Pirates took him in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft, he went briefly to State College. With 4th round pick Chase D’Arnaud needing somewhere to play, the Pirates promoted Mercer to Hickory. He likely was not ready for that level, and struggled at the plate. However, Wilbur Miller reports that he improved after getting settled in a bit.
The biggest issue moving forward will likely be Mercer’s lack of walks. He never walked much in college, and he walked only 13 times in his first 233 professional plate appearances. He has not displayed the ability to hit for a high enough average to counteract those low walk rates. This is a skill he must improve upon as he develops. He is big for a shortstop, but he should be good enough defensively to stay at the position. The Pirates selected three shortstops in the first seven rounds of the 2008 draft (Mercer, D’Arnaud and 7th round pick Benji Gonzalez), and added Jarek Cunningham in the 18th round. With Brian Friday and Brian Bixler in the upper levels of the system, the shortstop competition is going to be fierce in the coming years. Nobody is the clear leader right now and, although a few may switch positions down the road, playing time at short will be at a premium throughout the organization.
Here is a scouting video of Mercer.
Expected arrival in Pittsburgh: 2013
Billy Bean observed that plate discipline might be a teachable skill but only if you started shortly after the guy is born. Otherwise, look for that inherent ability. Given the weight he puts on getting on base (players don’t get promoted to the next level until they show so many walks per year) I would go with his take on it.
I have a question for people who follow the minors more closely than I do. This relates primarily to college players. How much chance is there that someone who walked little in college will suddenly start piling up the BB’s in the minors.
Intuitively, I’d think that you’re better off drafting the type of player you’re looking for, rather than thinking you can convert someone to the the organizational prototype. And, that you run the risk of creating a hesitant approach at the plate, rather than an appropriately aggressive one. But like I said, that’s just my intuitive perception and I’d be happy if it’s wrong.
Speaking of converting (and I’m not suggesting it), I saw a clip of Mercer pitching in college. He had some sick movement on his fastball.