Twins’ Yasser Mercedes Lives Up To Lofty Expectations

There are a lot of milestones on the road to the major leagues, and Yasser Mercedes hit a big one shortly after the 2022 season ended.

He turned 18.

“Yeah, we’re getting ahead of ourselves a little bit,” said Jeremy Zoll, the Twins’ assistant general manager in charge of player development, while laughing, “but he already looks like a high-caliber player, someone we’re really excited to see progress.”

That sentiment was first shown by the $1.7 million the Twins had already invested in the Puerto Rico-born, Dominican Republic-raised outfielder, the result of nearly four years of scouts’ time tracking him. They signed Mercedes in January 2022.

But that sort of long-term evaluation, common for high-profile international prospects, can almost dampen the excitement an organization feels, Zoll pointed out, once the organization finally signs the player.

Not so in Mercedes’ case.

“All the things our scouts talked about came to fruition basically (on) the first day he was in camp,” Zoll said. “Whenever you give someone $1.7 (million), there are expectations. That can be hard for a kid, but to see him hit the ground running (and) live up to those scouting reports, it was really something.”

Running was a big part of it, actually.

Mercedes stole 30 bases in 41 games in the Dominican Summer League—and that wasn’t even the most thrilling part of his game. He also drew 18 walks and struck out just 35 times for “better plate discipline than you could ever expect at that age,” Zoll said. “It was about as good a debut as you could hope for.”

Mercedes hit .355/.421/.555 as a 17-year-old, bashed 20 extra-base hits, covered center field wall-to-wall and earned himself an assignment to the Florida Complex League in 2023.

“We’re eager to see how he handles that adjustment, how he hits more advanced pitching,” Zoll said. “He has real potential with all five tools, so it’s just a matter of growing and maturing.

“He’s got such a great strong foundation in all those regards, it’s a really bright future ahead of him.”

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