GLENDALE, Ariz. — Yermin Mercedes swings really hard, uncoiling from a bowling ball build, and is just kind of fun to watch.
Even before he hit a tape-measure home run Monday, the 5-11, 235-pound Dominican catcher had emerged as one of several dark horse possibilities to make the White Sox out of spring training.
“I’m feeling great because I’m just doing my job right here, working hard every day, waiting for the White Sox to give me the opportunity to be that 26th man on the roster,” Mercedes, 27, said Tuesday.
He was told his home run against the Dodgers that landed on the concourse beyond the left-field wall was the longest broadcaster Jason Benetti had seen at Camelback Ranch in five years.
“Everybody said ‘800 feet,’ ” Mercedes said, smiling.
He looks like he’s trying to hit it that far every swing. He flipped his bat after connecting against a batting-practice machine this spring training.
“Yes, hard, hard, hard, every time,” he said. “Every time, I’m going to swing hard in the practice, and in the game, too.”
Mercedes has no major-league experience, with a professional résumé that includes three years in the Dominican Summer League with the Nationals and a season in independent ball after the Nats released him. For the Orioles’ Class A Delmarva team in 2015, he led the Atlantic League in the three slash-line categories (.353/.411/.579). After being plucked by the Sox in the minor-league phase of the 2017 Rule 5 draft, he was a 2018 Carolina League All-Star for Class A Winston-Salem.
Mercedes hit .327 with six homers for Class AA Birmingham in 2019, earning a promotion to Class AAA Charlotte mid-season. He blasted 17 homers in 53 games for the Knights while batting .310/.386/.647 and claiming a spot on the 40-man roster.
Simply put, Mercedes can hit. But enough to make the team?
Asked if the 26th spot could go to a catcher, Sox manager Rick Renteria said, “I guess it depends on the bat. What do I want to do with the bat, and who is the individual?
“He’s been doing a very nice job, and he’s a pretty nice receiver who can throw. So he’s got a little bit of a complete package.”
Renteria said shortstop Tim Anderson, who led the majors in errors last season, has looked good during infield work these first two weeks of camp.
“His feet are under control,” Renteria said. “He’s following his throws a lot more. I think the experience and time is going to put him in a much better place this coming season.”
Yolmer Sanchez, who won a Gold Glove as a second baseman for the Sox last season, played shortstop for the Giants against his former team. He said he wasn’t too disappointed the Sox didn’t offer a contract.
“No, not really,” he said. “I’m a professional, and you have to imagine at some point in your career that this is going to happen. I feel good to see them, the guys, and to play against them. It was a cool moment.”
Sanchez said he understood the business side of the Sox’ decision.
“I think I didn’t do enough on the offensive side,” he said. “I’m just happy to be here in this organization.”
All-Star right-hander Lucas Giolito (strained chest muscle) threw sliders and curveballs in his bullpen session and is scheduled for another sideline Friday.