Acquired by the Indians in the deal for Conner Capel (CF, Cardinals) and Jhon Torres (RF, Cardinals), Mercado is looking more and more like a guy who will really contribute at the big league level when Cleveland decides to bring him up as early as this September. Originally drafted in the second round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Gaither (Tampa, FL), Mercado had previously flown under the radar, due in large part to the glut of outfield bats at the upper levels of the Cardinals’ farm system.
He’s presently a wirey strong and plus athlete, with plenty of physical projection remaining. Mercado’s a fundamentally sound player across the board, showing a feel for the barrel and an advanced approach at the plate that generates consistent hard contact up the middle and into the gaps, with quiet hands and a toe-tap trigger. The game power is below average and plays best into the gaps. The barrel is flat through the zone and doesn’t generate much loft, but he could add a tick of bat speed and see a modest bump in home-run power down the road.
In the field, Mercado’s reads and routes are plus in center field, and his average-or-better arm and plus speed solidifies an overall plus grade at a premium position. On the base paths, he’s a consistent threat to take an extra bag and he should be good for 15-to-20 stolen bases per season, but his reads and instincts still have some room to develop for that to manifest. The bat speed can make him vulnerable to velo right now, but at the same time, his swing is short and compact, and he’s cut his K-rate down to 16% this year versus 21% in 2017. He’s the type of player that can grow on you the more you watch him, with the potential to become a solid Role 50 regular in CF, and with the athleticism to patrol either corner regularly as well.