Oscar Mercado is getting his shot.
According to Mandy Bell, the Cleveland Indians are expected to call up the 24-year-old to meet with the team in Chicago, with the likely corresponding move being a Tyler Naquin trip to the injred list.
Mercado was acquired at the deadline last season in exchange for a pair of outfield prospects, Conner Capel and Jhon Torres. At the time, neither Capel nor Torres had played above High-A, and as of this writing Torres still remains in rookie ball, while Capel has reached Double-A and struggled in with a .3130 wOBA in 34 games.
As for Mercado, the speedy center fielder has done nothing but improve since joining the Indians organization. He started with a .252/.342/.320 slash in 119 PA last season, but he showed an impressive bump in plate discipline with a career-high 10.9% walk rate.
Mercado played well enough to earn himself a look in spring training this year, and he impressed the Indians front office with his revamped swing and non-stop work ethic. Terry Francona had nothing but good things to say about him when it was announced that he’d be starting the season in Triple-A to ensure everyday playing time.
“He’s a really off-the-charts kid,” Francona said. “Sometimes when you tell the guys the message that they’re getting sent down, they’re not able to really digest what comes after that. So we wanted to make sure he did, because we thought it was important.
In 2019, Mercado has a .294/.396/.496 slash with four home runs, 14 stolen bases, and a new career-high 11.4% walk rate. We don’t have the benefit of his Statcast numbers yet, but his .391 wOBA is a career-high by a long shot, and his 23.5% line drive rate is an improvement over every year but his half-season with the Columbus Clippers in 2018.
While Mercado isn’t in the lineup for the series opener against the White Sox tonight, don’t be surprised to see him in there sooner rather than later. The Indians believe in this kid, and for good reason.