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Yermín Mercedes

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Yermín Francisco Mercedes
(The Yerminator)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 235 lb.

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Yermín Mercedes began his professional career in 2011 with the DSL Nationals as an 18-year-old. He always hit well in the minors, and became a true star in his native Dominican Republic where he was a mainstay playing winter ball in the Dominican League, but it took him a long time to make it to the major leagues, in part because he did not really have a defensive position. He spent time in the independent leagues and was a member of the Baltimore Orioles organization for a spell before the Chicago White Sox took him in the 2017 Rule V Draft, albeit only in the minor league phase.

Just when he was finally poised to make a run at a major league job, the Coronavirus pandemic intervened, shutting down the minor leagues in 2020. The White Sox kept him at their alternative training site as an insurance policy in case of injury. He did get to make his major league debut on August 2nd, but it was only a cameo as he made an out as a pinch-hitter and was sent back down almost immediately. He finally caught a break in spring training in 2021 when newly appointed manager Tony LaRussa took a liking to him and added him to the Opening Day roster as a third catcher and a potential bat off the bench. He was given his first opportunity to start a game on the season's second day, April 2nd, facing the Los Angeles Angels, as the DH, and he did not waste the chance. Not only did he collect his first big league hit, a single, in his first at-bat, but he had a 5-for-5 game with 4 RBIs in a 12-8 win. He joined Jack Dalton, who had done so in 1910, as the only players to have five hits in their second major league game; no one had ever done so in their debut. He then doubled down in the next game, getting hits in his first three at-bats on April 3rd to make it an 8-for-8 start before finally making an out in his final at-bat of the game. No one had started a season 8 for 8 since 1900, when the Elias Sports Bureau started paying attention. The hits included his first career homer, in the 2nd inning of the second game. On April 14th, he hit another homer, a three-run shot against Zach Plesac of the Cleveland Indians as part of a six-run 1st inning. That gave teammate Carlos Rodon the cushion he needed as he went on to pitch a no-hitter in an 8-0 win. On April 19th, he made his first appearance in the field - and it came as a pitcher. He was Chicago's starting DH in the game against the Boston Red Sox, and was asked to pitch the 7th inning with his team trailing, 10-4. He gave up an additional run, then turned the ball over to utility infielder Danny Mendick, who took care of the 8th. He continued to hit after his torrid start, finishing April at .415 with 5 homers and 16 RBIs in 22 games to earn the American League Rookie of the Month Award. His 34 hits as a rookie in April surpassed the club mark of 31 set by teammate Jose Abreu in 2014. The tables were turned on May 17th, when he got to bat against a position player, in this case Willians Astudillo of the Minnesota Twins, and he homered on an eephus pitch clocked at 47.1 mph. It was the slowest pitch on which anyone had homered since the introduction of Statcast. The Twins did not cover themselves in glory when on the next day, as Tyler Duffey, threw a pitch at Yermín, manfully objecting that he had broken some sort of unwritten rule when he had swung at a 3-0 pitch to propel La Tortuga's eephus offering into the stratosphere. Both Duffey and manager Rocco Baldelli were ejected as a result of that stunt. LaRussa also came out badly, as he publicly berated his player for swinging on the pitch, drawing almost universal backlash.

Following his hot start, Mercedes went into a slump in late May that eventually reached 25 at-bats, lowering his batting average below .300 for the first time that season. He snapped out of it on May 4th when he had a walk-off game-winning 9th-inning single off José Cisnero to give the White Sox a 9-8 win over the Detroit Tigers. If his month of May was mediocre, with a .221 average, he really turned back into a pumpkin in June, when his average fell all the way to .159 in 18 games, with just 2 extra-base hits. On July 2nd, the White Sox decided that it was his first month that had been the outlier, and that he was back at his true level of ability; thus, he was demoted back to AAA, with the Charlotte Knights. The fairy tale did not have a happy ending. He did well with the bat in his first couple of weeks in Charlotte, hitting .309 with 5 doubles and 4 homers in 14 games, although it wasn't as good on the defensive ends of things as he was charged with 7 passed balls, leading to a slew of unearned run against his team. On July 21st, he abruptly announced he was quitting, via an Instagram message. The message simply stated "It's over", before he thanked his fans. However, the White Sox said that he had not received any official notification and manager LaRussa, one of his biggest supporters, vowed to get in touch with him personally. "I'll try to explain to him he's got a big league future," he stated. Indeed, the very next day, Mercedes deleted his message, replacing it with one of a phoenix rising from its ashes, stating in Spanish "I never give up".

Further Reading[edit]

  • Michael Guzman: "Adolis, Yermín could join select ROY club", mlb.com, June 6, 2021. [1]
  • Scott Merkin: "Yermín goes 5-for-5: 'I just want to cry': Perseverance pays off for Chicago's 28-year-old No. 21 prospect", mlb.com, April 3, 2021. [2]
  • Scott Merkin: "Mercedes makes history with 8-for-8 start", mlb.com, April 4, 2021. [3]
  • Scott Merkin: "Yermín appears to announce his retirement: Instagram post lights up social media during White Sox loss to Twins", mlb.com, July 22, 2021. [4]

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