With 20+ rounds in the MLB draft, guys who go undrafted usually don’t go far in their professional careers. However, this is not the case with our next 2023 Dynasty Baseball Trade Target: Matt Mervis.
The World Baseball Classic can help find diamonds in the rough. For example, Nicaraguan Dukke Hebbert got signed to a minor league contract after striking out superstars Juan Soto, Manny Machado, and Rafael Devers.
Furthermore, the WBC can highlight players on the big stage who are performing really well early in their professional careers. Such is the case with Matt Mervis.
2023 Dynasty Baseball Trade Target: Matt Mervis
Mervis was taken in the 39th round by the Nationals in 2016 as a two-way prospect. However, he chose to go to Duke, continuing his two-way prowess, both getting on base at a high level and striking out 52 batters at Duke. However, Mervis was still undrafted when he entered in 2020.
While not close to a household name or a heralded prospect, Israel’s cleanup hitter has been tearing it up in the minors. Mervis soared from A ball all the way up to AAA in his second year in the minors.
Though moving up leagues in the middle of the season can be difficult, Mervis made seamless transitions. All in all, he was near or at the top of numerous minor league leaderboards in many stats, including his .309 average, 36 homers, and .984 OPS.
Just recently becoming a full-time hitter, Mervis made huge leaps from 2021 to 2022. By using more of an “all fields” approach and letting his natural power take over, Mervis raised his average .100 points and belted almost 30 more homers in 2022.
At 6"4, Mervis realized that he had lots of natural power, and didn't need to sacrifice pure hitting ability for power. While Mervis's ground balls primarily went to the right side, he was able to lift balls all around the ballpark. This new approach resulted in newfound power results for the Cubs first baseman.
This increase in production not only resulted in Mervis being named the Cubs MiLB player of the year, but also being a key cornerstone of Israel's WBC squad.
MATT MERVIS WITH A 440 FOOT BOMB 110 MPH WALK OFF HOME RUN!
CHICAGO HIM NOW! pic.twitter.com/o2vpYxUyfX
— Cubs Zone ™️ (@CubsZone) August 26, 2022
What Do the Experts Think About Mervis?
The experts are also coming around on Mervis. The scouting report on Mervis from Baseball America (via bleacher report) states “Mervis is a hulking lefthanded hitter with plus raw power. He previously struggled to make enough contact to get to it, but he shortened his swing and honed his approach in 2022 to focus on pitches in the middle-third of the plate, leading to his breakout year. He has excellent bat speed and natural timing, and his improved swing path and selectivity give him a chance to be an average hitter. Mervis can be a touch aggressive on soft stuff below the zone and isn’t as dangerous against lefthanders, but he demolishes fastballs, has good strike-zone recognition and keeps his strikeouts low for a power hitter. He mostly pulls the ball and will benefit from the new rules banning shifts in the majors."
Check out F6P's Connor Charbat for a more in-depth write up on how guys like Mervis benefit from the banning of the shift.
This provides a mixed bag on Mervis, but he was able to prove the naysayers wrong in 2022. Now, mlb.com ranks Mervis as a top five 1b prospect in all of baseball. (One spot ahead of Mervis is one of F6P's Alex Welch's underrated prospects, Kyle Manzardo).
Potential Trades for Mervis.
If you were a prophet or someone who could see into the future, you could have gotten Mervis off of waivers for free at the beginning of last year. Unfortunately, fantasy baseball (and life in general) doesn't work like that. If you don't have Mervis, someone in your league probably picked him up during his torrid 2022 campaign.
Being a prospect on a less relevant team in 2023 (the Cubs), Mervis may not have the national attention of other top prospects. However, a top-five positional prospect will always require a decent asking price. Trading for Mervis may require you to part ways with some young arms or bats.
Matt Mervis's magical 2022 season was just his second full season as a full-time hitter. Since he can put all of his offseason training into his hitting, expect 2022 to be an indicator of future success for Mervis, not an outlier.
For 2023, Fangraphs projects Mervis to amass just under 300 plate appearances in the MLB, tallying 11 homers and a wRC+ of 110. If the Cubs are a bottom-feeder team as expected, Mervis will receive many more at bats down the stretch.
Fangraphs' three-year projection of Mervis has him at an average of 22 homers and an average of .250. These tend to be safe projections, and Mervis's true production may be much greater.
Trading for 2022's breakout star will win you many matchups for years to come.
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