When shortstop Jordy Mercer took the field on Wednesday for his first big league start, the 25-year-old saw a very familiar face across the diamond in fellow rookie Matt Hague. Mercer and Hague have always dreamed of one day making it to the Major Leagues. And both get to share the experience of their rookie season together in Pittsburgh.
Before the infielders were both drafted by Pittsburgh in 2008, they played together at Oklahoma State for a year. Mercer hit .330 with 14 home runs during his Junior season in 2008 while playing the infield. He also made 16 appearances on the mound and notched nine saves en route to being the all-time save leader at OSU. Hague hit 12 home runs and hit for a .360 clip while spending playing time in right field and third base. Hague, too, was a two-way player and was used in relief.
“We both threw decent,” Hague joked on who had the better arm. “But probably me.”
Both Mercer and Hague started their professional careers at State College after signing in 2008. Hague made his debut on June 17, where he tailed his first professional hit. Three days later, Mercer joined Hague with the Spikes. They hit their way out of short season A ball, and were promoted to Low-A Hickory (the Pirates since then moved to the West Virginia Power) on June 26.
Over their next two seasons, Mercer and Hague won Championships with their clubs. In 2009, when Hague was moved to play primarily first base, they won the Carolina League Championship with Lynchburg (now the Bradenton Marauders).With Double-A Altoona in 2010, they won the Eastern League Championship while Mercer hit a career-high .282 average and Hague set a career-high in home runs (15).
While Hague was promoted to Triple-A the begin the 2011 season, Mercer repeated the season to start at Double-A, but joined him in Indianapolis after late June. Indy didn’t make the playoffs last year, finishing in second place in their division, but the rookies in Pittsburgh have their eye on a different Championship.
Mercer was promoted to the Majors on Tuesday joining Hague after hitting .358/.408/.453 in 95 at-bats in the month of May. Hague broke camp with Pittsburgh after leading the team in his first big league spring training camp with a .400 average and seven home runs. The first baseman’s first trip in the Majors lasted just nine days, but was recalled again on Friday.
After playing together for five straight years, and talking about how one day they would play on the same field in Pittsburgh, it finally came true on Wednesday.
“It’s fun to see him over there on the other side of the diamond,” Hague said after extending his hitting streak to six games on Wednesday with a clutch two-run double in the 6th. “We’ve been playing together for a while. We have that friendship and its good to see him over there.”
“It’s awesome,” Mercer said, who picked up his first big league knock in his first professional start on Wednesday. “This is my fifth year of doing it in a row in the Minor Leagues and the big leagues too. You know when you throw it over there, it’s going to get caught. That’s a good feeling to have.”