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Indians Pick Up Outfielder Mercado from Cardinals for Outfield Prospect Pair

Indians Pick Up Outfielder Mercado from Cardinals for Outfield Prospect Pair

| On 31, Jul 2018

The Indians snuck in a second deal prior to the trade deadline on Tuesday afternoon, acquiring outfielder Oscar Mercado from the St. Louis Cardinals for a pair of outfielders in the Cleveland farm system.

The Cardinals received High-A outfielder Conner Capel as well as Jhon Torres, a teenage outfielder who had been with the team’s Arizona League club in Goodyear.

To make room for Mercado on the 40-man roster, the Indians have designated recently acquired outfielder Johnny Field for assignment.

The move for Mercado was likely made with eyes on the near future as mainstays Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall will both become free agents in the offseason, as will established veterans Melky Cabrera and Rajai Davis. Bradley Zimmer is expected to miss time at the beginning of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery and the results have not been consistent from Greg Allen, Brandon Guyer, and Tyler Naquin. Newly acquired Leonys Martin will also be under contract for the coming season, but all the question marks make for an uncertain outfield picture.

Swapping a pair of younger outfield prospects for an outfielder who could contribute later this season or next year was worth the risk for the Indians, who added the tenth ranked prospect in the Cardinals farm system (according to MLB.com) to their own, giving them some much needed depth to Cleveland’s organizational depth chart.

The 23-year-old Mercado has spent the season in Memphis with the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate, putting together a .285/.351/.408 slash with 21 doubles, one triple, eight homers, and 42 RBI in 100 games. Primarily a center fielder, he has logged a handful of games this season in both corner outfield spots. He could provide the Indians with another speed threat on the bases, as he has picked off 31 of 39 bases this year, leading the Pacific Coast League in thefts so far this season.

Steals have been a consistent part of his game throughout his six years in the minors. He has stolen as many as 50 bags in a season (doing so in 117 games in 2015 at Class-A Peoria). He is nearing personal career-highs in a handful of offensive statistics this season, including runs, doubles, homers, RBI, walks, and batting average, and his .351 on-base percentage is currently the best mark of his career. He owns a lifetime .252/.316/.351 slash across 564 minor league games.

He was drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft out of high school. The Tampa, Florida, native began his pro career as a shortstop before he was converted to the outfield during the 2016 season. He was an organizational All-Star in 2014 and a two-time mid-season All-Star in his league in 2015 and 2017. He appeared in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, suiting up for Team Colombia, and he was added to the Cardinals’ 40-man roster after that season.

Mercado will report to Triple-A Columbus for the Indians.

“We are excited to acquire Oscar. He can impact the game in multiple ways with his hit-ability and above-average speed, which plays both on defense and on the bases,” shared Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti during a conference call Tuesday afternoon. “He’s a player we liked in the draft and have followed closely throughout his professional career with the Cardinals. He bolsters our organizational outfield depth in the short-term and we’re optimistic about his continued development.”

Capel, 21, was the Indians’ fifth round pick in the 2016 draft out of Seven Lakes High School in Katy, Texas. The son of former big league pitcher Mike Capel, the third-year pro had spent his season at the High-A level with the Lynchburg Hillcats, posting a .261/.355/.388 line with 17 doubles, three triples, six homers, and 44 RBI. He had stolen 15 bases in 25 attempts over 89 games. He was a midseason All-Star for the first time in his pro career with the Hillcats earlier this season and has been twice named the Player of the Week (both in 2017 while with the Class-A Lake County Captains). He will report to the Cardinals’ Palm Beach affiliate in the High-A Florida State League.

Torres, just 18, was in his second season of activity in the Indians farm system after signing with the club in July of 2016. He spent parts of three months working with the Dominican Summer League Indians in 2017 and reported to Goodyear this year, spending the last month working in the Arizona Rookie League. In 27 games this season, he had hit .273 with a .351 OBP and a .424 slugging mark with three doubles, four homers, and 16 RBI. He split his first season in center and right fields, but had worked almost exclusively in right this season in Arizona. He will report to the Gulf Coast League Cardinals of rookie league action.

The Indians will have seven days to place the 26-year-old Field on waivers, trade him, or release him. If he clears waivers, he could potentially return to Triple-A Columbus, where he had gone 5-for-15 in five games with two doubles, a homer, and four RBI while drawing five walks since being claimed off of waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays on July 24.

Photo: Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

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