‘I’ve always known I was a hitter’: Matt Mervis’ wild journey from offensive afterthought to slugging prospect
In 2022, Matt Mervis became a household name not only in Cubs circles but around the entire Major League Baseball prospect world.
Smacking 36 homers with 119 RBI, 40 doubles and a .309 batting average certainly helped put him on the map — especially considering Mervis continued to hit at every level of the Cubs system.
It was a breakout season for the left-handed-hitting first base prospect as he finished the year one call away from Chicago at Triple-A Iowa.
As if that isn’t enough good news on its own for the Cubs, consider that it was Mervis’ first season as a full-time hitter since his high school days.
Last year, Mervis tallied 578 plate appearances in the Cubs minor league system. In the five years prior, Mervis notched only 609 plate appearances from 2017, the start of his collegiate career at Duke, through 2021, his first full season in pro ball (plus 299 plate appearances in collegiate summer leagues).
He began his Duke days as a pitcher before transitioning to a regular two-way player during his junior year. Couple that with COVID and Mervis simply hasn’t had much of an opportunity to get in-game reps in the batter’s box.
“I’ve always known I was a hitter,” Mervis told Cliff Floyd during a hitting demo for Marquee Sports Network. “I got 10 at-bats my first 2 years at Duke. I was consistently behind guys that were entering pro ball at the same time that I was.
“I got a good amount of at-bats in summer ball in college my junior year and then senior year was COVID so a shortened season there. And no at-bats almost that year. Had some ground to make up. My first year in pro ball got cut short cause of COVID. Last year was the first full season I played as a hitter pretty much since high school.”
With more experience as a full-time hitter, Mervis can continue to develop. He’ll receive his most intense experience yet in the World Baseball Classic later this spring as he earned a spot on Team Israel’s roster.
Mervis turns 25 in April and will likely make his debut at Wrigley Field sometime this season. But with the arrival of Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini, the Cubs don’t need to rush Mervis and can give the prospect plenty of time to get more acclimated to the Triple-A level.
Or Mervis could hit his way through the WBC and Cactus League play and force his way into the big-league lineup.
In the batting cage at the Cubs complex in Mesa, Ariz., Mervis took Floyd behind his pregame routine, chatted about what areas of the strike zone he targets in which counts, how he approaches utilizing the entire field and how he is preparing for the WBC.
Check out the entire video and interview above.