What to Expect from Cubs First Baseman Matt Mervis


A big power bat is headed to Chicago.

Matt Mervis of the Chicago Cubs

Image via Getty

Chicago Cubs fans received good news on first baseman Matt Mervis on May 4, as ESPN reported that the 25-year-old slugger is set to be called up to the Majors. Mervis feasted on Minor League pitching since the start of the 2022 season, in what’s been a meteoric rise for the former Duke University power-hitter. Here’s a closer look at Mervis.

Related: 2023 MLB Fantasy: Dodgers 2B Miguel Vargas is Gaining Steam

A Look at Mervis

Former Duke University star Matt Mervis was drafted by his hometown team, the Washington Nationals, out of high school in the 39th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He didn’t sign, as he opted to move forward with his commitment to Duke. Mervis didn’t play much in his first two seasons, before a decent 2019 campaign that saw him post a .779 OPS. The 25-year-old did much better in the Cape Cod League that summer, and then posted a 1.048 OPS during the COVID-shortened 2020 NCAA season.

Mervis wasn’t selected in the 2020 MLB Draft, but he did find a home as an undrafted free agent with the Cubs. The primary first baseman recorded a .676 OPS with Myrtle Beach (A) in 2021, before an overhaul in his approach and a shortened swing (h/t Baseball America) helped propel Mervis into a star prospect.

The Cubs prospect clubbed 36 home runs and 78 extra base hits across three levels in 2022. While Mervis isn’t a strong athlete or a great runner, he does have natural plus power and a hitter with an above-average eye at the plate. Both tools were on full display in the 2022 campaign, which Mervis ended with Iowa (AAA). Thus far in 2023, Mervis owns a .286 batting average and a .402 OBP with six home runs and 13 extra base hits over 24 games.

Mervis — one of our top fantasy hitting prospects entering the 2023 season — may not be the only notable promotion in the month of May for the Cubs. Chicago fans should keep an eye on INF/OF Christopher Morel, who logged 113 games with the Cubs in 2022. Morel showed a fair amount of pop, but also struggled at the plate when it came to making consistent contact. But in 2023, Morel’s looked quite strong at the plate. Over his first 24 games of the 2023 campaign in Iowa, Morel hit .358/.460/.821 with eleven home runs, 21 extra base hits, and 28 runs batted in.

A Look at the Cubs

Entering play on May 4, the Cubs owned the sixth-best team OPS (.786) in Major League Baseball, thanks in large part to the hot start of Nico Hoerner, as well as the bats of Cody Bellinger and Patrick Wisdom. But, that standing has slipped in recent days. Chicago’s scored 21 runs over the last six games (3.5 R/G), down from the 5.0 R/G the Cubs have averaged throughout the season.

While it’s not to imply that the Cubs are calling up Mervis to turn around the fortunes of the team, the past few weeks for the North Siders have been at least a reminder that the process of turning the team from a rebuilder to a contender will include some growing pains.

Mervis’ bat can be a difference maker at the MLB level, but we’ll find out whether the former Duke product can translate his success in the Minors into Major League success. He should have the opportunity to be a regular 1B/DH, and that may means a reduction in playing time for Eric Hosmer. Hosmer had just five extra base hits over his first 26 games.

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