Fantasy Baseball

Minor League Buzz: Oscar Mercado & Nicky Lopez

Oscar Mercado of the Indians and Nicky Lopez of the Royals look to get their first taste of Major League action on Tuesday as it appears they’ve each earned a promotion to the first division.

Oscar Mercado | Indians | OF

Mercado, a former first-round talent that fell to the second-round of the 2013 MLB Draft due to struggles with the bat in his final prep season, was known for his defensive prowess at the shortstop position and excellent speed. On the heels of five seasons on the farm with St. Louis, the Cardinals dealt Mercado to the Cleveland Indians at the 2018 trade deadline for Conner Capel and Jhon Torres.

For his Minor League career, Mercado owns a .254/.321/.357 with just 33 home runs, but added 210 stolen bases in 294 attempts. In 30 games (119 ABs) this season for Triple-A Columbus, Mercado slashed .294/.394/.496 with four homers and 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts.

For fantasy baseball purposes, we’ll be looking for Mercado to add speed to our lineups. He has plenty of that. Mercado has three seasons with at least 30 swipes and reached the 50-swipe mark in 2015 in just 117 Single-A games. In order to steal bases, one must be on base, though. His OBP steadily rose from .290 in his first season on the farm to .396 so far this season in a small sample at Triple-A – which definitely plays.

Mercado takes his walks and kept a strikeout rate around 20% for his MiLB career. He’ll likely need some time to adjust to MLB pitching, but Mercado could be one of those single category (SB) winners for owners in need of speed. Billy Hamilton-lite? Or maybe, better than Billy Hamilton? Not sure he’s as fast as Billy, or will steal as many bases as Billy, but one has to believe he’ll be able to get on base more than Billy – which was always the big knock against him.

Lists of note: MLB Pipeline: #19 in Cleveland organization, FanGraphs: #12 in Cleveland organization

10-team: watch, 12-team: Add, 15-team: Add (3%-%5 of FAAB)

Nicky Lopez | Royals | SS/2B

Like Mercado, Lopez is known primarily for his leather. But one shouldn’t overlook his ability to contribute a little in both the home run and stolen base categories. He’s walked more than he struck out at both Double & Triple-A last season and is doing the same through 31 Triple-A games this season (14.5% BB%, 3.6% K%) – making him much more of an appealing option in OBP leagues.

In 31 games at Triple-A this season, Lopez is slashing .353/.457/.500 with three homers and nine stolen bases. Steamer rest of season projections suggest Lopez could be in line fro ~16 HR+SB with a .273 average and .339 OBP.

If I had to choose between the two, Mercado and his steals get the nod.

Lists of note: MLB Pipeline: #8 in the KC organization, FanGraphs: #7 in the KC organization

10-team: watch, 12-team: watch, 15-team: Add (1%-%3 of FAAB)

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