Mercedes added to White Sox 40-man roster

Catcher among 7 prospects protected from Rule 5 Draft

November 20th, 2019

CHICAGO -- Yermín Mercedes can hit.

That fact has been proven the past two seasons, but with Mercedes being one of seven players whose contracts were purchased Wednesday and added to the White Sox 40-man roster, don't discount his ability behind the plate either.

"Most of the focus goes on his bat because of what he's been able to do offensively, both as a hitter, from a hit tool standpoint, but also the power production. He can catch," said White Sox director of player development Chris Getz of Mercedes. "He's a pretty good receiver.

"It shows up not only when you just watch his body of work, but from a framing aspect. You talk to pitchers that throw to him and that have thrown to him often, they enjoy throwing to him. He's quiet behind the dish, he has a plus arm. We are not talking about just a bat. It's a package of skills that can be a future Major League catcher."

Right-handed pitchers Zack Burdi, Dane Dunning, Matt Foster and Jimmy Lambert, left-handed pitcher Bernardo Flores Jr. and outfielder Blake Rutherford also had their contracts purchased by the White Sox, bringing the 40-man total to 40. Dunning (5), Rutherford (9), Lambert (18), Burdi (23) and Flores (28) rank in the White Sox Top 30 prospects per MLB Pipeline.

Burdi, 24, was the 26th pick overall in the 2016 MLB Draft. He had Tommy John surgery in 2017 and then had full medial patella-femoral ligament reconstruction in his right knee after suffering a freak injury during conditioning drills late last June. That surgery has a typical recovery time of about 5 1/2 months and then 7 1/2 months to "kind of feel like yourself," said Burdi, who is currently working out in Arizona.

"It's really exciting," said Burdi, who has been throwing for 1 1/2 months. "Just keep my head down and take care of my work and make sure I'm doing my best to perform and stay healthy this year."

Dunning and Lambert also underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019. They are progressing well and expected back in action mid-way through '20.

Among those players not added to the 40-man were right-handed pitchers Alec Hansen, Spencer Adams and Zach Thompson and left-handed pitcher Kyle Kubat. They will be exposed in the Rule 5 Draft on the final day of the upcoming Winter Meetings in San Diego on Dec. 12. Hansen topped the Minors with 191 strikeouts in 2017, but he has walked 103 over his last 103 2/3 innings covering the past two seasons.

Mercedes had a slash line of .317/.388/.581 to go with 23 home runs and 80 RBIs between stops at Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte this past season. He joins fellow catchers James McCann, Zack Collins and Seby Zavala on the White Sox 40-man, after previously playing as part of the Nationals and Orioles systems.

"He really just flourished here," said Getz of Mercedes, who was selected from Baltimore in the Triple-A phase of the 2017 Rule 5 Draft but did not receive a September callup. "Everyone's development is different. Our scouts in the Dominican did a fantastic job of seeing him play winter ball. We got those reports, and a lot of things had jumped from what we had before.

"We were on top of it. He was available in the Rule 5 [Draft], we chose him and we brought him in. Sometimes you just need to be in a different organization, around different people. We created that kind of environment for him to go out and just play. He built some good relationships with the coaches we had surrounding him, along with some players. We believed in him."