Matt Mervis – Picture by Rikk Carlson
When the Cubs signed Matt Mervis as a nondrafted free agent in 2020, I was pretty sure the Cubs were going to take him and turn the two-way player into a one-way player. With his power hitting profile at Duke, it was clear that side of his game had much more potential and appeal to the Cubs.
Unfortunately for Mervis, he did not get to play right away as he had to wait until 2021 because of the pandemic. When Mervis began his career, he displayed a good approach and showed a pretty good awareness of the strike zone. Unfortunately, the potential that everyone saw as a power hitting first baseman took a while to come out.
Mervis was assigned to Low-A Myrtle Beach to begin his pro career. That first month did not go well at all as he hit .177 in 18 games. His walk rate was pretty good that first month at around 16%, but he also struck out a little over 25% of the time. He hit a couple home runs and drove in double digit RBI, which seemed to be the theme of the year for him.
In his best months last year, Mervis barely hit above .220. But there were some consistencies. There was a potential for power, and he showed an ability to drive in runs. A .208 season average and an OPS less than .700 was not going to get it done. If Mervis was to succeed in 2022, he was going to have to improve his ability to square up the baseball more frequently.
Fast Forward to 2022
Whatever Mervis did over the winter, it definitely has paid off. It looks like he added some muscle and everything he is doing at the plate is turning to gold.
What has also helped Mervis this year is that the the Midwest League is much more hitter friendly. The Carolina League is well known as a pitcher’s league and that is a tough place for a power hitter with the wind coming in off the Atlantic.
In April this year, Mervis hit three home runs and drove in 16 as well as hit. 305 and his OPS was almost .900. He made North Side Bound’s April All-Star team with his efforts. At the end of the month I was really happy to see those results and hoped that they would continue and. Knock on wood, they have.
For May, Mervis is hitting 432 with an OPS of 1.300. He surpassed last month‘s home run total already and is closing in on that RBI figure with 2+ weeks to go. It’s been a pretty impressive streak of six weeks that makes you think that he might not be around South Bend too much longer if this continues.
To be ready for the next level, he still needs to work on his defense and footwork around the bag as well as his decision making in the moment as a defender. However, it is all about that bat.