Interview with Shortstop Prospect, Oscar Mercado

Leaf Trinity Cards

Oscar Mercado, shortstop of the future?


The Cardinals drafted two pitchers (Marco Gonzales, Rob Kaminsky) in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft, and that really wasn't much of a surprise. Drafting young arms appears to be one of the primary hobbies of the current Cardinals' front office and developmental program. Despite the fact that an inordinate amount of rookies made their MLB debuts last season, it is still widely believed that the farm has a fresh crop of young arms set to make an impact for years to come.

However, an area of need over the past decade has been the shortstop position. The last somewhat homegrown shortstop to have a significant impact was Edgar Renteria, and that was all the way back in 2004. Well, the organization hopes to have addressed this need by drafting Oscar Mercado in the second round of last summer's draft. Baseball Prospectus classified Mercado as "one of the few true shortstop profiles in the draft class" which is a premium value for every team in the MLB. However, concerns about the development and projectability of his bat at the professional level made him available for the Cardinals in the second round. The Cardinals, knowing their lack of depth at the position, gladly snatched him up in hopes of his bat developing to an adequate level.

Player Profile:

  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Right
  • Height: 6'2"
  • Weight: 175 pounds
  • Born: December 16, 1994 (Age 19)
  • High School: Gaither HS (Tampa, FL)
  • Acquired: 2nd round of 2013 MLB Draft

2013 Statistics:

Year

Level

Team

G

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

2013

Rk

GCL

42

186

.209

.290

.307

.597

.098

.292

81

As you can see, Mercado struggled at the plate in his first year as a professional. However, considering he is still just 19 years old and had only 186 plate appearances, I don't believe it is time to start slamming the panic button just yet. The potential impact his glove and range can have on a game will likely pick up where his bat may be slacking. If Mercado is able to develop into a .265/.320/.395 hitter, the Cardinals will be ecstatic, and he will likely be manning the shortstop position at Busch Stadium for a very long period of time.

Interview:

Viva El Birdos: Can you do a backflip?

Oscar Mercado: I wish I could. It wouldn't hurt to be like the Wizard of Oz.

VEB: You get to play a game wearing a Superman cape, but you have to wear the Superman tights, do you do it?

OM: I would have to pass on the offer. I’d probably look like a fool, haha.

VEB: Do you ever white out "Taveras" on your copies of Cardinals prospect lists and write in Mercado?

OM: No sir. Taveras is a great player and deserves all the attention he is getting. I'm hoping to have my name at the top of that list very soon.

VEB: If you rearrange the letters in your name, it spells "Cards Room Ace." What do you think that means?

OM: I'm not very sure, but anything with the word ace in it must be good, so I'm thinking positive, haha.

VEB: Which Florida beach is the best?

OM: I haven't been to them all, but Juno Beach is really good, and so is Clearwater Beach. Can't go wrong with South Beach either.

VEB: What’s your favorite tourist attraction in Florida?

OM: Water parks in Orlando are my favorite. I'm not a big roller coaster guy.

VEB: We saw your tweet about Peyton Manning and the Super Bowl not being over. Would you classify yourself as an optimistic guy all the time? Some of the time? Most of the time?

OM: All the time. I always root for the underdogs. I like to always keep my hopes up even if the game is out of hand.

VEB: Who is your favorite current shortstop to watch in the field?

OM: Andrelton Simmons from the Braves. He makes every play and has an absolute cannon, really fun to watch.

VEB: What are you working on in terms of development at the plate?

OM: Just getting stronger and becoming more disciplined at the plate—knowing what type of hitter I am.

VEB: How did you learn to field the SS position so well? Do you believe it’s more from drills or something that comes with experience in the field?

OM: I think it’s something that has come natural to me. Drills help a lot, but the repetition of ground balls is what helped me out the most.

VEB: What's your relationship like with fellow 2013 Cardinal draftee, Chris Rivera, given that you play the same position?

OM: Chris is one of my best friends in the organization. We played together with Marucci and won a national title for Perfect Game playing side by side with him. We also attended both All-American games together, and we roomed together during instructs. I must say our relationship is really good.

VEB: Rivera recently tweeted that his goal for 2014 was to reach Class A Peoria by season's end. Do you have similar goals in mind for yourself this season?

OM: We all set the bar high for ourselves. I think Chris has the right mindset and all the talent in the world to get there. My goal is to play to my ability and show them the type of player I am—letting the rest play out on its own.

VEB: What is the biggest adjustment you've had to make defensively since entering professional baseball?

OM: Knowing that I don't have as much time to get rid of the ball as I did in high school. Learning the speed of the game had to be my biggest adjustment.

VEB: If you could only have one skill: 20+ home run power OR great defensive range at SS, which would you pick and why?

OM: As a shortstop, my job is to play defense to the best of my ability. So knowing that’s my main job, I would have to go with great defensive range.

Viva El Birdos is grateful for the time Oscar took in answering our questions just before the start of Spring Training. We wish him the best in 2014 and beyond. Plus, who cannot root for a guy who sends out tweets like this one?

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