Sitting at number eight on the St. Louis Cardinals is outfielder Oscar Mercado. He is currently playing for the Memphis Redbirds.
Oscar Mercado was drafted by the Redbirds out of high school back in 2013, and he is right on the cusp of becoming something huge. The young outfielder might be number eight in the St. Louis Cardinals organization now, but not too long ago he was far from it.
There are a lot of different ways that Mercado’s career can go from here. The hope is that he progresses with the Cardinals, but that is not a given at this point. More to come on that.
He was drafted as a shortstop, and played there for several years. With his batting average sitting below .250, Mercado was one wrong move away from searching for new employment. For some reason, in 2017, the team thought his talents would be useful in center. That turned out to be the best possible move.
In one year, Mercado’s batting average jumped from .215 to .287. Now, it is up to .291. Keep in mind that he jumped up a level each year. Somehow, he was able to take the tougher competition in stride and perform. That switch of position made all the difference.
Improvements And Potential
Night and day improvement is hard to trust, but in this case it seems legitimate. Mercado has gone from eight homers in his first four years, to hitting 19 since the start of 2017. That is just the tip of the iceberg. All of his numbers have improved drastically, and it is not a flash in the pan.
As Mercado improves his approach, his potential is as an everyday centerfielder according to MLB Pipeline. That is quite the evaluation considering he was a shortstop until the beginning of last season. But, the 23 year old could end up being a very productive major league outfielder.
The fact remains that Mercado could be one of the bigger trade assets that the St. Louis Cardinals have. There is little chance that Mercado alone could net the player to push the team to October, but he is a nice center piece to a deal.
His night and day transformation should be enough to convince a selling team to part with a key player. Mercado’s ceiling might be growing, but so is his trade value. The front office is well aware of what they have. There are a lot of outfielders, and only three places to put them.
The emergence of Mercado is a great story, but the story is not over yet. One glance at his numbers shows that he has the makeup to be a solid everyday player, we just do not know where. For now, he is tearing it up for Memphis. Whether he gets called up, or traded, there will be something useful to come from this prospect’s emergence.