The Indians were hoping that Oscar Mercado would one day be the centerfielder of the future, today he was optioned to Triple-A.
If you forgot about how well Oscar Mercado played in 2019 at 24-years-old, you aren’t the only one. Mercado was a wildman that year, hitting .269, with 15 home runs, 54 RBI’s, 15 SB’s, and 25 doubles. Many thought he was going to be the next big thing because he did all that in just 115 games and had some real hype around him heading in from the offseason.
Now in 2021, at the age of 26, Mercado had a spring training to forget. He hit only .214 in 29 at-bats. He didn’t play well enough or showcase his defensive skills well enough to make the opening day roster for the Indians.
A problem for the Indians, as they were already really short on depth in the outfield. If the Indians can’t use him right now when they are still figuring out what their everyday outfield is going to look like, then what hope does Mercado have to actually be an everyday major league player?
Mercado’s spring training wasn’t the start of questions about his consistency. During the COVID-19 reduced 2020 season, Mercado didn’t really hit well either. He hit .128 with just one home run, six RBI’s, and 11 hits in 86 at bats. Again, the Indians’ outfield was open for the taking if someone, anyone, just stepped up. Mercado didn’t, or couldn’t.
This is especially concerning as many expected him to walk out as camp as the incumbent center fielder.
Mercado is going to have opportunities, however, to shake this stretch of work off. He’ll get specialized coaching in the minors to improve his swing and maybe in a few weeks or months, Mercado will get another crack.
It’s still unknown as of this writing what the final 26-man lineup looks like for the Indians, but it’s safe to say that if the last few years are any indication, someone will eventually have to get sent down or released due to their poor play.
When that day comes then Mercado can get another swing at things.