||Orlando Mercado Jr.
||Short Season A Yakima Bears (Northwest League)
The son of a former major leaguer Mercado finds himself ahead of the curve
more often than not, but maybe not as far ahead as he thinks he is. He got
the majority of the time behind the plate in '04 for Yakima, showing much more
hitting prowess than his father. Spent the entire season in Yakima, his
second season in the Northwest League, but at just 19 still has both a lot of
time and a lot of talent. The Diamondbacks have 'plus' rated catchers at
almost every level, so it might take more time than Mercado has patience to move
|'04 Yakima Bears
Batting and Power: Mercado hasn't shown much more than gap power
to this point, but by all accounts he's still growing, and his slightly upper
cut swing should translate nicely into at least 15-20 home run power down the
line. He makes contact often and was above 1:1 in his strikeout to walk
ratio, a rarity for a player that young and that far down in the system.
Base Running and Speed: Mercado has catcher's wheels, but is
very adept at taking the extra base and making smart decisions when on the
bases. That is, as long as he cares. Rumors persisted that once
Yakima fell out of the division title race (the team eventually finished last in
their division) Mercado's work ethic dropped also.
Defense: The arm is below average, but the footwork and release
point are far ahead of catchers his age, thanks one has to assume, to good
advice from the elder Mercado. He will throw out more than his share of
runners as he tinkers with the release point on his throws, has shown well above
average, though inconsistent, accuracy when throwing the ball. Calls the
game very well and seemed most interested in that portion of the game, learning
his pitchers and opposing hitters, playing to strengths and weaknesses.
Certainly has a way to go, but maybe a better defensive catcher than others in
the D'Back system ahead of him.
ETA: The current big league catching situation features a rookie
and two second year catchers competing for three spots on the roster, and there
are at least three other catchers in the system ahead of Mercado, whom
the Diamondbacks don't mind holding onto because he is so young. He'll
probably start '05 with the Lo-A Silverhawks in the Midwest League, but
depending on how that trio of youngsters does in Phoenix he might actually get
moved down a level because of overcrowding. '06 should be the year when he
makes the biggest jump. Expect a cup of coffee (probably backing up when
somebody has a minor DL stint) with the Diamondbacks in '07 and a chance to make
the big league club as a backup in '08.