Miami Marlins draft spotlight: Jan Mercado, 13th round

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Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images /
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With their 13th round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft, the Miami Marlins went with a solid defensive catcher. They went over the slot by a considerable sum to sign him.

The Miami Marlins strayed from the formula they’d taken earlier in the draft in the 13th round. After selecting seven pitchers ahead of him, the Fish went with the second-half of the battery with this selection.

Jan Mercado has the raw tools to become one of the better defensive catchers in the league. He is athletic, quick to the ball, and possesses a strong, accurate arm. His bat produces a lot of line drive hits, but few home runs.

With all the tools you could ask for out of a high school prospect, it’s no wonder he is the only positional prep-school player the Miami Marlins took in the 2017 MLB Draft.

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Mercado doesn’t exactly fly around the bases, but he possesses above average speed for a catcher. He is very quick, but calling him fast would be a stretch. Where he outshines the bulk of his competition is behind the plate defensively.

Being that Mercado is a 6-foot-1, 185-pound high school senior out of Puerto Rico High School, the Miami Marlins gambled by selecting him in the 13th round of the MLB Draft. There are any number of colleges that would have been happy to have Mercardo as part of their roster.

The gamble proved well worth it, though. After some some negotiation, Mercado finally came to terms with the Marlins with the deadline to sign rapidly approaching. To ink him, the Fish had to go well above his slot, drawing $100K from their draft pool.

Mercado is the second catcher taken in this draft by Miami, and faces a long road to the Major Leagues. If his bat is able to catch up to his defense, he could rise quickly.

Mercado vs. earlier selection Jared Barnes

In the eighth round, the Miami Marlins selected Jared Barnes out of the University of South Alabama. Barnes is further along in his development, having played against a higher caliber of competition. However, Mercado might have the higher ceiling of the two.

While Barnes plays solid defensively, Mercado possesses the tools to become a star. He is out of his squat unbelievably fast, and uncorks laser beams down to second base. When the ball arrives, it is on target, and creates a popping noise that echoes through the ballpark.

Barnes is certainly further along with his bat, though. And possesses more home run power.

There isn’t as much statistical information available on Mercado as there is on Barnes, but Mercado seems to be a slightly below average hitter. His upside is mostly as a defensive player, and if he is going to become an everyday catcher, his hitting would need to improve significantly.

Next: Miami Marlins draft spotlight: Josh Roberson, 12th round

Barring a revelation at the plate for him, Mercado could become one of the better reserve catchers in baseball. His defense should develop and become top-notch, though he won’t be able to contribute much offensively. With players like Buster Posey and JT Realmuto setting a higher standard for offensive production from the catcher, Mercado doesn’t fit that mold.

At only 18 years old, he has many years of development ahead of him before he might appear in a Major League game.

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