- Full name Matt Merricks
- Profile Throws: L
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Rockies think enough of Merricks that, after taking him in the major league Rule 5 draft from the Dodgers, they were willing to listen to offers for incumbent lefty specialist Javier Lopez. Acquired by Los Angeles last July in exchange for Tom Martin, Merricks never has had a winning season as a pro and tied for the minor league lead with 15 losses in 2003. His brother Charles pitched three years in the Colorado system, and another sibling, Alex, pitches in the Twins organization. Used primarily as a starter in the minors, Merricks will try relieving for the Rockies this spring. He has a live arm with a low-90s fastball that reaches 95 mph, and he has shown the makings of a decent changeup. His curveball has been inconsistent, but a third pitch won't be as necessary out of the bullpen. He tends to be overly aggressive and has to keep himself under control so he can throw strikes. He was bothered by a bone chip in his left elbow, which required surgery after the 2004 season, but should be 100 percent for spring training. Like Marcos Carvajal, Merrick will have to clear waivers and be offered back to the Dodgers for half his $50,000 draft price before he can be sent to the minors this year.
Though Merricks tied for the minor league lead with 15 losses, 2003 was a successful season for him. He solved low Class A in his second attempt at that level, and he pitched well in high Class A despite losing his first seven decisions there. He improved the velocity of his fastball to as high as 95 mph, and his changeup developed into a plus pitch. His stuff is as good as that of any lefty in the organization, and his aggressiveness borders on needing to be channeled. His curveball also could use some refinement, and a bone spur in the back of his elbow is hindering the development of his breaking ball. The biggest thing Merricks needs is more maturity. Spring training will determine whether he reports to high Class A or Double-A to open 2004.
No Braves short-season pitcher was more consistent last year than Merricks, who succeeds without overpowering stuff. While Appy League teammates Bryan Digby and Blaine Boyer overpowered opponents, Merricks limited them to a .209 average while striking out 12.1 batters per nine innings. Not bad for his first taste of starting as a pro. He's a strike thrower with excellent command and a good feel for pitching. He gets ahead in the count by working off his high-80s fastball, which has good life. Merricks also throws a slider and changeup, both of which are workable but will need to be fine-tuned as he progresses through the organization. His next stop is scheduled to be the rotation at Macon, where he'll get his first taste of full-season ball.