The Tigers signed right-handed relief pitcher Melvin Mercedes out of the Dominican Republic as a 17 year old in 2008. He began pitching in the Dominican Summer League and has gradually progressed up the organization, pitching most recently as the closer in Double-A Erie in 2013. He is listed at 6'3", 250 lbs.
The Tigers added Mercedes to the 40 man roster after the 2012 season, and he has yet to make his major league debut. Over six minor league seasons (all as a reliever) Mercedes has a 2.70 ERA in 179 games. He has struggled with each promotion, until last season. He remains one level ahead of Jose Valdez in the Tiger organization.
In 2013, Mercedes began the year in High-A Lakeland, where he posted a stellar 0.96 ERA with a WHIP of 1.00 in 26 appearances. He was promoted mid-season to Erie, where he had an ERA of 1.44 with a WHIP of 1.28. At age 23, he is one of the better relief prospects in the organization. Jordan has a complete scouting report on him here. Baseball America ranked Mercedes as the 13th best prospect in the organization.
Keys to success
If Mercedes can repeat the same numbers as he advances against tougher competition, he will be an asset to a major league team. The home run rate started to creep up as the walk rate dropped last year. Better to miss the plate than miss over the plate.
The Tigers' Melvin Mercedes is not to be confused with another Melvin Mercedes, a second baseman by the same name from the Bronx, New York, in the Oakland A's organization.
Mercedes is a long shot to make the major league roster out of Spring Training due to the number of players with major league contracts out of options, but if a spot opens up during the season, Melvin could be called up. As a right-handed reliever, with five spots likely spoken for and another lefty needed in the mix, that leaves just one potential spot open, barring injuries. Another season like last year, if he can keep his walk rate down, and he could be called up in September.