The Chicago White Sox did not quite know what to make of Yermin Mercedes when they acquired him in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft from the Baltimore Orioles. Mercedes had bounced around in the Minor Leagues with the Orioles and the Nationals for six years and was not considered a high-level prospect. However, Mercedes has found his swing this season in a gigantic way for the White Sox!
The 28-year old who hails from the Dominican Republic leads the American League in hitting with an insane .485 batting average! In fact, Mercedes started the season off by getting eight hits in his first eight straight at bats which is a new modern day record (espn.com). Here are three things to know about this hot hitting new star.
Mercedes is HUGE
At 5-11 and a burly 245 pounds, Mercedes definitely has the body of a prototypical Major League power hitter! It has often been said that kids from the Dominican Republic know that they have to hit their way off the island. Mercedes has proven so far this season that he definitely knows how to hit and fits in perfectly as the Sox designated hitter.
Mercedes spent Ten Years in the Minors
The Washington Nationals signed Mercedes as a free agent back in 2011 when he was only 18 years of age. Mercedes only played in 44 games during his first Minor League season but hit an impressive .302. Unfortunately, the Nats released Mercedes in August of 2013. This move was surprising because Mercedes had put up some decent numbers over that timespan.
Mercedes played in the Independent League for most of the 2014 season until the Orioles picked him up in September of that year. Mercedes had his breakout Minor League season in 2016 while in the O’s organization. The big right-handed hitter slugged 20 home runs and hit a robust .345 between two different single-A teams that season. That banner year helped establish Mercedes as a true Major League prospect.
The White Sox were fortunate to get Mercedes away from the Orioles in the Rule 5 Draft in December of 2017. Mercedes’ discipline continued to improve at the plate and he continued to put up titanic power numbers in both 2018 and 2019. Mercedes made his big league debut with the White Sox in the pandemic shortened 2020 season but only got to bat one time.
Mercedes can play Three Different Positions
Although Mercedes is probably best suited for designated hitter, he can also play catcher or first base. This type of versatility will help the White Sox find ways to continue to get his bat in the lineup night after night. Though Mercedes is considered a rookie in 2021, this is his 11th season of professional baseball.
Mercedes has proven at each pro level that he knows how to hit (.308 career pro average) and hit for power (107 career homers) (baseball-reference.com). If Mercedes can continue his hot hitting, he will be a key factor in helping the White Sox win the American League Central division this season.