After nearly a full calendar year of pleading with their front office, Chicago Cubs fans have gotten their wish: Slugging first baseman Matt Mervis is getting the call to the Show from Triple-A Iowa, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
The Chicago Cubs are calling up top first base prospect Matt Mervis, sources tell ESPN. He's expected to join the team tomorrow as it returns home to start a series against Miami. Mervis, 25, was hitting .286/.402/.560 with six HR in 24 games at Triple-A Iowa. Big power prospect.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 4, 2023
Mervis, who just turned 25 last month, spent last season crushing his way through three levels of the Minors, including a .977 OPS in 57 games at Triple-A — prompting the North Side to wonder when they might see him at Wrigley Field. That call never came, as a non-competitive Cubs team decided it wasn’t worth burning a year of service time just yet. Surely, though, 2023 would be a different story.
Except Chicago signed Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini to deals over the winter, seemingly blocking Mervis’ path to playing time. It made a certain amount of sense at the time. An undrafted free agent out of Duke University after the COVID-19 pandemic cut short his senior season, Mervis wasn’t thought of as much of a prospect until his breakout last year, while Hosmer and Mancini were established big-league bats. Safe to say it hasn’t worked out that way, though: Mervis has continued to mash with a .962 OPS and six homers in 24 games at Triple-A — while Hosmer and Mancini have combined for .678 OPS so far in Chicago.
First base has been the one hole in an otherwise surprisingly strong Cubs lineup this year, and finally — or a little too late, depending on who you ask — the club decided they had to make a move. But what can we expect from Mervis now that he’s getting his shot at long last? And is he worth grabbing for your fantasy baseball team?
Matt Mervis fantasy impact
It’s been a long road for Mervis, who decided to enroll at Duke rather than sign with the hometown Washington Nationals after D.C. took him in the 39th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He became a very solid hitter with the Blue Devils, with a career .384 OBP — but the bar is very high for first base-only bats, and no team took a shot on Mervis in the shortened five-round MLB draft back in 2020. That seemed pretty wise at first, as he struggled to a .676 OPS in his first taste of pro ball in 2021.
Then the calendar flipped, and Mervis turned into one of the most fearsome sluggers in the Minors. The lefty used his 6’2, 225-pound frame to club 42 home runs in 154 games across three levels plus the Arizona Fall League last year, with a slugging percentage over .600, and he’s just kept on chugging so far in 2023.
must be nice— Aldo Soto (@AldoSoto21) April 25, 2023
Here's Matt Mervis murdering a baseball at Triple-A, where the Cubs still have him playingpic.twitter.com/CcFg8PDR7X https://t.co/CCow92XnXV
As you can see from the above, Mervis really doesn’t get cheated — his homers tend to be absolute missiles. But what makes him appealing from both a real-life and fantasy perspective is that the lefty doesn’t sell out to get that power, running solid averages and great OBPs to go with the prodigious home-run totals.
Those numbers are likely to backslide a bit at the highest level, especially as he adjusts to MLB pitching, but it’s not crazy to think that Mervis could settle in as a guy who hits 25-30 homers with a .270ish batting average — in other words, a very valuable player, especially in a strong Cubs lineup. He’s worth an add in just about every league, and don’t be discouraged if he starts out slowly.