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2023 Cubs player profiles: Matt Mervis

Nineteenth in a series. Rookie first baseman Matt Mervis and his big bat arrived in Chicago in early May and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Matt Mervis has yet to show off his power as a Chicago Cub, but the power is real and the balls will commence leaving the ballpark any time now. In the meantime, he has displayed defensive skills beyond what we were told he has and has driven in some crucial runs.

His arrival on the fifth of May relegated Eric Hosmer to DH/spot starting duties, and quite a few people are pleased about that. The 25-year-old Mervis has seven hits in 32 at-bats, good for a slash line of .219/.265/.265. Much more is expected, and soon, especially his first MLB home run. He slashed .276/.361/.529 over his minor league career, with 51 home runs and 190 RBI.

Mervis and Christopher Morel, the subject of the next profile, are up for more than coffee — management has said that they are to receive an extended look and plenty of playing time, and so far that has been the case.

This is always where I’ve expected myself,” Mervis said of his rapid ascension through the Cubs’ system in the past year. “I don’t know how to describe it, really. It’s definitely gone fast, and it’s been a really fun year. But yeah, a year ago, I was in high-A. So a big change, but it’s been fun.

“I have high expectations for myself. I expect to come in and help us win right away.”

Matt Mervis has a good glove for low throws and a good arms to make plays — he did a fair bit of pitching when he was younger but hit his way out of that. He doesn’t run at all — Rizzo left him the piano. But he’s in scoring position when he steps up to the plate, as the saying goes. had this to say about Mervis just before his call-up:

Mervis features the best combination of power and contact in the Cubs system, and he took off when he improved his bat path and his swing decisions. His bat speed and the strength in his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame are obvious, but he’s more than just a masher. His relatively compact left-handed swing enables him to make consistent hard contact and he did a much better job of handling same-side pitchers in 2022 than he did in his debut.

Right now he’s swinging a bit too freely and he hasn’t been getting many good pitches to hit as a result. His corresponding adjustment has yet to be seen, but I have little doubt that he will adjust, based on his meteoric rise through the Cubs’ system in 2022.

The article continues:

Though he’s a well-below-average runner, Mervis moves well enough to play an adequate first base. He has a strong arm that produced low-90s fastballs with high spin rates and solid low-80s sliders when he pitched in college. He played some third base at Duke but lacks the range to play there or in left field as a pro.

I have the feeling that there are a lot of home runs coming, once that small adjustment is made. He’s been vulnerable to sliders and breaking stuff just off the plate, and it would be better to just accept his walks, but that’s part of becoming a pro.