Jordy Mercer Learning In The Big Leagues





PITTSBURGH — The Pirates are big believers of keeping their prospects in the minor leagues to get regular playing time until they are truly needed in the major leagues.

An exception to that rule has been shortstop Jordy Mercer, who has spent much of the season in the major leagues with limited playing time. He had appeared in 23 games and logged 47 plate appearances, after playing in 56 games and getting 236 trips to the plate for Indianapolis. Mercer hit .287/.357/.421 for the Indians and was selected to play in the Triple-A all-star game.

On the surface, it appeared the 26-year-old Mercer wasn't gaining a whole lot by sitting on the bench in the majors and hitting .159/.191/.341.

"I'm learning much more up here than I would be if I were back in Triple-A,"

Mercer said. "I'm getting a chance to be in the big league atmosphere and see how guys on the very highest level of baseball go about their business on a daily basis. It's been very helpful and I really feel like I'm learning what it takes to eventually be successful at this level."

The Pirates drafted Mercer in the third round in 2008 out of Oklahoma State, and he was rated as having the best infield arm in the farm system after each of the last two seasons.

Mercer also hit a combined 19 home runs between Indianapolis and Double-A Altoona last season. Yet there has always been a question about whether he could develop into a starting shortstop at the major league level.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, though, is a Mercer believer.

"You see the reasons why we drafted him where we did," Hurdle said. "You're seeing a defensive presence with the arm strength to play shortstop . . . He puts the barrel of the bat on the ball with good gap power. There is a lot to like about him."

PITTSBURGERS

• Righthander Jameson Taillon, the second overall selection in the 2010 draft, was promoted to Double-A Altoona after going 6-8, 3.82 in 23 starts at high Class A Bradenton. He struck out 98 in 125 innings and walked 37.

• Infielder Gustavo Nunez was finally healthy enough to begin an injury rehabilitation assignment in mid-August, after missing nearly six months while recovering from right ankle surgery. The Pirates selected Nunez in the Rule 5 draft last December, but he broke his ankle early in spring training when he fouled a ball off it.