Prior to opening day, odds are you hadn’t heard of Yermín Mercedes. Even if you were a Chicago White Sox fan, you probably weren’t thinking about a player listed third on the team’s depth chart at catcher.
But that’s the beauty of baseball. All you need to do is step in the batter’s box to make some history.
Mercedes, a 28-year-old rookie, opened his season with a hit on Friday after riding the bench on opening day. Then he recorded four more hits. Then three more on Saturday. That adds up to an 8-for-8 start, the most consecutive hits to start an MLB season since 1900, per Elias Sports.
We’re not talking about some cheap hits either:
Unfortunately, Mercedes’ historic run came to an end on his final plate appearance on Saturday, when he flew out to Mike Trout in the eighth inning. Hey, it takes the best stop the best.
Who is Yermín Mercedes?
In case “No. 3 on a catcher depth chart” or “28-year-old rookie” didn’t clue you into the fact that Mercedes is quite an underdog history, let’s just go through the progression of his career real quick.
According to MLB Pipeline, Mercedes signed with the Washington Nationals out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. He received a $20,000 signing bonus. For reference, that’s 10 times less than what Trout makes on a per-game basis this year.
The young Mercedes entered the Nationals system … and never moved past rookie ball. The Nationals cut him in 2014, and he ended up playing in independent ball in 2014, the place you go when none of MLB’s 30 teams have room for you in their organization.
Mercedes eventually made it back to affiliated ball with the Baltimore Orioles, where he advanced as far as Double-A ball in 2017. At that point, the White Sox grabbed him in the minor league portion of the 2017 Rule 5 draft (yes, there is a minor league Rule 5 draft).
Mercedes proceeded to rake his way to the majors, but only briefly. He appeared in one game for the White Sox in 2019, as a pinch hitter. He grounded out.
Questions remain around Mercedes’ viability as a minor leaguer; his bat no longer seems to be in question among prospect evaluators, but he’s exactly Yadier Molina behind the plate. But we at least know his name has made the history books, 10 plate appearances into his career.
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