SF Giants prospects: Midseason 2021 rankings
18. Manuel Mercedes, RHP
Highest Level: Rookie (Arizona)
Acquired: IFA (2019)
Future-Value Grade: 40+
The SF Giants inked Manuel Mercedes for a $400,000 signing bonus in their 2019 IFA class, and he’s already emerged as one of the most electric arms in their organization. Less than two weeks older than Eric Silva, the Giants fourth-round pick in this year’s draft out of JSerra High School, Mercedes is already maintaining mid-90s velocity alongside feel for a changeup and a potentially plus slider. As is standard for young fireballers, Mercedes’ will have to improve his command significantly before becoming a top prospect, but he has the potential to be the best pitching prospect the Giants have had since Madison Bumgarner.
Mercedes has some room to fill in his sturdy 6’3’’ frame, but he already generates elite arm action from a three-quarters release point that is reminiscent of Camilo Doval. Like Doval and many tantalizing hard-throwers who have recently come through the Giants system, Mercedes hasn’t been able to turn his advanced arsenal into a dominant season.
Across 11 starts, Mercedes has recorded 50 strikeouts, 20 walks, and 44 hits across 46 innings pitched. His .352 BABIP and 62.7% LOB% both suggest he’s suffered from some bad luck, but those metrics are far less predictive in the lower minors, where hard contact can have a more consistent impact on BABIP.
Mercedes’ fastball plays a bit below its velocity due to some slight tailing action. While it will leave the young righty less room for error, it does appear to be helping him keep the ball on the ground. In a league where the majority of balls in play are in the air, Mercedes has generated a 60.4% groundball rate, which ranks second among 84 qualified pitchers. Fans should obviously hope that Mercedes becomes an elite ace, but a propensity to induce groundballs could help him become a mid-rotation arm, even if he never develops an overpowering arsenal.