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Duke in the MLB: Mervis dazzles in minors, looks to potential early 2023 majors debut with Cubs

Mervis dominated the minors in 2022 with both improved plate discipline and raw power.
Mervis dominated the minors in 2022 with both improved plate discipline and raw power.

The minor league season has wrapped up and the lone Blue Devil major leaguer failed to reach the postseason. Duke has sent plenty of talent to the pros, so let’s take a look at what they have done:

The Chicago Cubs’ Marcus Stroman finished his season with a 6-7 record, a 3.50 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 138.2 innings pitched. A solid season in the Northside for the 31-year-old gave him the highest WAR of Cubs pitchers, with 2.5. Alas, the Chicago club finished third in its division with a 74-88 record. 

Griffin Conine saw a major dropoff in slugging percentage from 2021 to 2022 while at Double-A Pensacola, Joey Loperfido dominated High-A with a .986 OPS with the Asheville Tourists in the Astros organization and Bryce Jarvis struggled on the mound, allowing 27 home runs in 106.2 innings. While some recent Blue Devils had their ups and downs, one name in particular broke through in a big way in 2022.

Cubs prospect Matt Mervis was recently named the organization’s minor league player of the year and could earn the International League’s Most Valuable Player Award. His remarkable slash line and power numbers were unmatched in the minor leagues and he would have ranked at the top of the leaderboards in batting average and runs batted in had his explosive season taken place at the MLB level.

Entering Duke as a two-way player, Mervis saw time on the mound before transitioning to the field, where he would eventually manage a .281 career average while starring in the Blue Devil lineup in the shortened 2020 season. Undrafted in the also-shortened MLB Draft that summer, he signed on with the Cubs as a first baseman.

After beginning his 2022 campaign in High-A South Bend, Mervis clubbed his way to a .350 average and a promotion to Double-A Tennessee in mid-May. The Washington native even saw an increase in his strikeout-to-walk ratio at the higher level while still mashing baseballs—his .596 slugging mark and continued dominance of minor league pitching earned him yet another promotion just two months later.

Mervis’s campaign’s final stop with the Iowa Cubs was more of the same dominance he displayed while in Double-A. He improved his walk rate to 10.4% and kept his average around the .300 mark the whole way. With 15 doubles and 15 homers in 57 games during his two months in Triple-A, he was the owner of one of the best power marks in the nation with a BABIP lower than his average, so he was not even particularly lucky with his contact. He rarely whiffed, and proved time and time again that he was ready for the big stage.

The 24-year-old finished his minor league season with 36 home runs, 119 runs batted in and a .984 OPS.

Since the close of the season, he has been tearing up the Arizona Fall League and has cemented himself as one of the minor leaguers in the Cubs organization most likely to either make the opening day roster or get the call-up early on. He is likely to skyrocket up the Chicago prospect rankings as he looks to claim a starting spot while the club peruses the free-agent market for other first basemen and designated hitters.

His light-speed road to the show is coming to fruition. Wrigleyville, watch out for Mervis.

Micah Hurewitz | Sports Managing Editor

Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity junior and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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