News: 4 days agoMercado is not expected to lead off this year, Mandy Bell of MLB.com reports.
Spin: It sounds like Cesar Hernandez will lead off while Francisco Lindor bats third with Jose Ramirez and Carlos Santana hitting in the No. 2 and No. 4 spots in some order. That means Mercado could occupy a spot in the bottom half of the lineup this season, as Franmil Reyes seems unlikely to hit lower than fifth. This would be a pretty big blow to Mercado's fantasy value as he is likely to score less runs from the bottom of the order than from the leadoff spot.
ESPN Fantasy Projection: Mercado began the 2019 season with Triple-A Columbus, slashing .294/.396/.496 before getting the call to report to the big club in mid-May. The 2013 second-round draft pick of the Cardinals registered a fine rookie season, finishing with 15 homers and the same number of steals. Long term, Mercado projects more as a stolen-base threat than a home run guy, sporting 97th percentile sprint speed. Mercado's average fly ball distance is relatively short, but most of his homers are down the line. With only one year under his belt, it's unclear if this pull nature will continue, allowing Mercado to perennially threaten double-digit homers. Truth be told, he'd be better off with the Willie Mays Hayes approach, keeping the ball on the ground while regaining the plate discipline displayed in the minors. Draft Mercado for steals and consider home runs a bonus.