Tigers Scouting Report #30: Melvin Mercedes

For a pitcher that got the chance to make his big league debut in 2014, one would think it was a banner season for big right-hander Melvin Mercedes. However, after the season, Mercedes was removed from the 40-man roster, an always discouraging sign. Does his updated scouting report align with the perceived drop in status with the organization?

Melvin Mercedes

Vitals

Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 11/2/1990 (2015 Opening Day Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6-3/250
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: Amateur Free Agent, 2008
Ranking History: #97 (2009), #42 (2010), #80 (2011), #30 (2012), #56 (2013), #20 (2014), #30 (2015)

Background: After signing as an amateur free agent in 2008, Mercedes debuted with the DSL Tigers and began his journey through the Tigers system as a hard-throwing reliever. After missing time due to injury in 2010 and 2011, Mercedes got on track with a strong performance in Low-A in 2012; cementing himself as a legitimate relief prospect. As he motored through High-A and Double-A in 2013, Mercedes finished the season with sub-1.50 ERA at both stops, and began to push himself higher on the prospect landscape. In 2014, Mercedes struggled to miss bats and appeared to plateau some at Triple-A, though he did make his Major League debut with two scoreless innings of relief.

Performance:

2014 Stats - Pitching
TEAMGGSSVIPHHRRERBBSOHBPERAWHIPW/L
Toledo 460360.16983533163104.921.410-3
Detroit 1002.000000200.000.000-0


Scouting Report

Body: Much heavier than listed weight; big, thick torso; strong legs; needs to improve conditioning to help all phases of game; high maintenance body.

Delivery/Mechanics: Substantial regression in delivery/mechanics since last year; many relatively minor changes result in troubling overall mechanical profile; max effort reliever; can get too quick through delivery at times; arm will drag behind and come through late; arm slot/angle varies because of effort; lacks conditioning to consistently throw more than 10-15 pitches before delivery starts to loosen.

Fastball: Sits low-90s; consistently reaches 94-95 mph; has reached higher in the past but rarely goes to that level; FB has natural sink, diving in on right-handed hitters; heavy ball; sink loses some impact because ball is worked up in zone too frequently; when down in zone, pitch can dominate and induce weak contact; potential bat breaker; above-average fastball now with potential for plus grades if pitcher can consistently work down to take advantage of weight and natural movement. Grade – Present 5+/Future 6

Slider: Pitch has backed up in recent years; previously considered above-average by many scouts; now consistently fringe; lacks control over pitch; spin is occasionally tight and deceptive; arm slot drops some from FB and pitch is more effective when slot stays up; not a swing and miss pitch but could be reasonable second offering in relief role; limited growth potential in pitch. Grade – 4+/4+

Control/Command: Inconsistent delivery and unconditioned body limit control projection; will lose zone completely at times; at other times he just throws it at the zone and relies on movement to miss the fat part of the bat; leaves FB and SL up in the zone often; pitches are much more hittable than they should be because of loose control/command; projects to below-average long term.

Other: Jovial; has fun on the field; enjoys playing the game; can flash some intensity on the mound and will attack hitters when he gets amped up.



Final Word

Summary: Difficult profile with heavy low-90s fastball and fringe slider; lacks put away pitch that can miss bats consistently; needs to refine ability to throw strikes but unlikely to make strides in this area at this point in developmental path; limited projection remaining and will have to survive with what he has.

Risk: Moderate risk; upper level experience; still highly volatile prospect with flame-out potential because of non-impact stuff and role projection.

Projection: On the big league radar for 2015 and beyond, and will have up-and-down career at a minimum; potential for mid relief role if he finds success early; ceiling is probably in the 7th inning if he can work the lower parts of the zone more consistently, but inability to miss bats holds back from a high-leverage projection.

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