At the trade deadline Tuesday the Cleveland Indians and the St. Louis Cardinals made an unusual prospects-for-prospect transaction. The Cardinals are sending outfielder Oscar Mercado to the Indians in exchange for outfielders Conner Capel and Jhon Torres. Here’s a quick look.
Oscar Mercado, OF: The Cardinals drafted Mercado in the second round in 2013 from high school in Tampa, Florida. Originally an infielder, he was a mediocre hitter for four seasons and lost most of his prospect status. He converted to the outfield in late 2016 and took off with the bat in ‘17, hitting .287/.321/.428 last season in Double-A and .285/.351/.408 this year in Triple-A, restoring his lost luster as a prospect.
Mercado is 23 years old, a right-handed hitter, listed at 6-2, 175. His impact tool is speed: he swiped 38 bases in 2017 and 31 more this season. He’s improved his plate discipline and has learned to leverage his wiry strength into gap power. The former shortstop is also an above-average defensive outfielder more than capable of handling center. He’s ready for a trial.
Conner Capel, OF: Capel was drafted by the Indians in the fifth round in 2016 from high school in Katy, Texas. He whacked 22 homers in the Low-A Midwest League in 2017 with a .246/.316/.478 slash line but has produced less power this season in the High-A Carolina League, with a .261/.351/.388 mark. He’s hit six homers, well down from last year’s pace, but has hit for a higher average and shown more patience at the plate.
Capel is a left-handed hitter, listed at 6-1, 185, age 21. He has above-average running speed that he’s still learning to use and has a shot as a double-digit power/stolen base producer down the line. He’s not as good as Mercado with the glove but may provide more long-term pop.
Jhon Torres, OF: Torres was signed by the Indians in 2016 out of Colombia. He hit .255/.363/.408 last year in the Dominican Summer League, then moved up to the Arizona Rookie League this season with a .273/.351/.424 line.
Torres is listed at 6-4, 199, a right-handed hitter, age 19. He’s a long way off but has shown solid power potential and strike zone judgment to this point in his career. He also has a throwing arm that fits well in right field.