|Name||Orlando Mercado Jr.|
|'04 Club(s)||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 up.
|'04 Yakima Bears||.266||3||40||32/24||.743||252|
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.