I am continuing my series on the Cubs Prospect All-Season Team by taking a look at first base. Previous entries are listed at the conclusion of the piece and will be updated as subsequent positions are revealed. This was my easiest decision so far by a wide margin because Matt “Mash” Mervis had a season that could be described by so many superlatives. What he did between three levels in the minors was phenomenal.
Mervis was not selected in the shortened five round draft of 2020, but was a priority undrafted free agent signing by the Cubs. The Duke senior is now looking like a steal after receiving the $20,000 max for undrafted players, but his debut season at Myrtle Beach left a lot to be desired. By getting out of his head and trusting his mechanics, there seemed to be no challenge Mervis couldn’t conquer this year.
This was evident in the way he improved at each new level he was assigned, as Mervis improved his strikeout and walk rate from High-A South Bend to Double-A Tennessee and finally to Triple-A Iowa.
At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, the big lefty batter has a balanced and quiet approach at the plate with plus pitch recognition skills and feel for the zone. Watching his approach, you could tell he knew exactly what pitches he could do damage on and was patient enough to wait for that pitch. This allowed him to launch 36 homers, third-most in the minors in 2022. He also led the minors in extra-base hits (78) and RBI (119).
He rarely swung at bad pitches or looked lost at the plate, which allowed him to avoid any kind of prolonged slump. Despite being a slugger, Mervis had a 10.6% walk rate while keeping his strikeout rate at 18.2% between the Double-A and Triple-A levels.
You can see how quiet he is at the plate in this video of his 32nd homer. He recognizes the pitch early and gets to the ball quickly. The power looks effortless.
Mash Mervis hits HR #32! pic.twitter.com/sV5urLi9sV
— Jordan Miller (@Miller_MiLB) September 11, 2022
Here’s another home run that he makes look so easy.
No doubter by Matt Mervis. His 36th HR of the year. pic.twitter.com/l8vY8uoox2
— Jordan Miller (@Miller_MiLB) September 27, 2022
Never Nervous Mervis also has a flare for the dramatic, often coming through with a big hit to tie the game or give his team the lead.
Never Nervous Matt Mervis with the game winner!!! https://t.co/AU4NoLBHug
— Jordan Miller (@Miller_MiLB) May 11, 2022
Overall, he was able to slash .309/.379/.605 with a 156 wRC+ across three levels of the system Mervis seemingly came out of nowhere this season, making it difficult to know where to rank him prospect-wise, but the numbers and eye test can’t be ignored. I would slate him somewhere in the top 10 of my Cubs prospect rankings, and believe he should get a considerable amount of consideration for a Top 100 prospect spot.
The season isn’t over for Mervis because he is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League. This is an opportunity for him to face more advanced arms since he only has 470 PAs above A-ball in his career. Mervis has given himself the opportunity to win the first base job out of spring training next season and should be a platoon option in Chicago at the very least.
A lot depends on what the Cubs do this winter, but my bet is on Mervis conquering another challenge by breaking camp as the everyday first baseman as of Opening Day 2023.