TCN 2014 Cards Prospect #22: Oscar Mercado

So far, a $1.5 million bonus is the standout of the shortstop's brief career, but better times are ahead. Today's report is FREE!

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NA SS 12/16/1994 6-1 175 R R 2013 2nd

School: Gaither High School, Tampa, Fla.

Selected 2013 stats

GCL 0.209 0.262 163 18 34 5 1 14 17 39 12 0.292 0.290 0.307 0.597

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (29): Second-round draft pick Oscar Mercado was voted as the community's 29th prospect. This is Oscar's first time eligible for the list.

The Cardinals saw a lot in Mercado to dole out $1.5 million bucks, a considerably over-slot deal from his projected value at that pick, 57th overall. Shortstops that can stay at the position are hard to come by, so when one looks to have a decent chance to do that, especially one with some potential with the bat, they tend to get a lot of attention.

Mercado's calling card is his defense at short. Listed as one of three players under Baseball America's "Best High School Defender," he had the potential to be a first-round draft pick for his glove alone. Had it not been for a disappointing senior season, we probably would have heard his name called earlier in the draft.

After signing, Mercado was assigned to the Gulf Coast League rookie-level club and adjusted slowly to the professional game. He hit .209/.290/.307 in 42 games and committed 15 errors while on defense.

Only time will tell if Oscar develops into the organization's best young shortstop since Edgar Renteria was acquired from Florida 15 years ago. We all know about the excellent glove, but his bat must develop and he must gain strength if he wants become that caliber of player. Patience is the key. - DTFlush234

Brian Walton (22): With any player drafted the previous June, most of us have a precious few number of games to make an initial assessment. If the numbers are really good, we could leap to overly-positive conclusions. If the early results are weak, we could write off a player prematurely.

After looking at the stat sheet from Mercado's debut in the Gulf Coast League, the risk is clearly in the latter direction. In reality, we have just 42 games of work from an 18-year-old with a lot of adjustments to make.

Beyond the obvious factors of when the player was selected in the draft and how much bonus money he received, we are wise to consult with others who have a longer track record with having watched the player on the field.

One veteran talent evaluator, who has seen Mercado far more often than me, had a quick response to my questions about the shortstop's hitting. "He has more offensive upside than people give him credit for," the scout said.

Absolutely no one expresses any concerns about Mercado's defense. His 2014 challenge will be to come to extended spring training ready to play and put together a nice first full season. He clearly has the capability with a lot of open road ahead to advance when he proves he is ready.

In his own words: In October from the Cardinals instructional league camp, Mercado spoke about the draft, his 2013 debut and more. Click here for the interview, exclusively for subscribers to The Cardinal Nation.

Our 2014 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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