New Rules Could Open A Spot For White Sox's Mercedes
With major league rosters set to expand to 26 next season, the White Sox are already thinking about keeping three catchers.
"It's possible,” Chicago general manager Rick Hahn said. "Obviously, Zack (Collins') bat is of great intrigue and the fact you can plug it in at three different spots, DH, first base and catcher, is very intriguing.”
James McCann lines up as the Sox's No. 1 catcher in 2020, and Collins is positioned to back him up.
If the White Sox decide to use Collins more at DH and first base, that could open the door for Yermin Mercedes.
Selected from the Orioles in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft in December 2017, Mercedes just completed his eighth minor league season. He also spent a year playing Indepedent League baseball.
He might not seem like much of a prospect at the age of 26, but Mercedes is on Chicago's major league radar after combining to hit .317/.388/.581 with 23 home runs in 95 games for Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte this season.
"In Birmingham this year, he was one of the more consistent hitters,” White Sox farm director Chris Getz said. "He can drive the baseball. He can hit the fastball, hit offspeed pitches, he goes the other way and his receiving is pretty good as well. We challenged him in Charlotte and his numbers were very good.”
Mercedes is likely to be added to the 40-man roster in the offseason. When he reports to spring training, the 5-foot-11, 225-pounder won't be just another body needed to catch bullpens.
Chicago likes Mercedes' hitting, his defense and his positive outlook.
"He's been a bright spot,” Getz said. "Since we've acquired him in the minor league Rule 5, he's performed well. As we've inched him a little bit closer to Chicago, he's gotten a little bit more excited, just a taste of maybe the big leagues are not too far away. He loves to play. He's one of those players that really likes to express himself as well, so he's fun to watch. A good teammate. The production is there. He's an exciting player for us.”
After Nick Hostetler was promoted to special assistant to GM Rick Hahn, Mike Shirley replaced him as director of amateur scouting. Shirley joined the White Sox as a part-time area scout in 2000 and steadily moved up the ladder.
On track to join the Sox early next season, Nick Madrigal will likely wind up in the leadoff spot at some point after striking out just 16 times in 532 plate appearances with high Class A Winston-Salem, Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte in 2019.