Cubs: Matt Mervis wants to be the team’s next Anthony Rizzo
We won’t see him at Wrigley Field as the season winds down, but Cubs prospect Matt Mervis has done everything he can to play his way into the team’s plans for the future this year, hitting at every stop along the way, including his latest home at Triple-A Iowa.
Between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A this year, Mervis has a .991 OPS – and has rocketed up prospect rankings lists from various publications. Baseball America (subscription required) has him at #20 in the organization, while MLB Pipeline’s updated list places him at #21. His breakout performance this year has more than a few folks wondering if he’s the second coming of Anthony Rizzo, who blossomed with the Cubs, becoming a face of the franchise en route to a World Series championship.
As far as Mervis is concerned, earning the same level of praise and the accolades Rizzo received would be great – but he knows those things will have to be earned. He’ll have to put together the same run of success the three-time All-Star did on the North Side, a tall task – despite his impressive showing in 2022.
"“He was the face of the franchise. Everybody loved him. I know he’s big in the community,” Mervis told NBC Sports Chicago. “So I obviously have some big shoes to fill if I do make it up there. I think he earned that … It’s not something where I can just come up and be the next Anthony Rizzo,” he added. “He won a World Series for the Cubs and did it for a number of years.”"
Given the Cubs’ lack of impact depth at the position, it seems likely that, regardless of what the team does this offseason, Mervis will get a fair shake at cracking the big league roster next spring. Perhaps he’ll even break camp as the team’s first baseman. But we’ve got a long way to go before he’s the go-to guy at first.
Cubs: Pumping the brakes on the Matt Mervis hype train
This is just his second full professional season. After playing at Duke, the COVID-shortened 2020 draft left him on the outside looking in and he wound up signing with Chicago as a free agent. As impressive as he’s been at every stop this year, he’s still got just over 800 professional at-bats under his belt.
I’m not saying Matt Mervis can’t or won’t be a long-term answer for the team at first base. But remember about 12 months ago when Schwindel was playing out of his mind and folks thought he was a diamond in the rough and a possible heir to Rizzo? This year, he’s hit .299 and gotten on-base at a .277 clip – and is currently back at Triple-A Iowa, injured. All this to say: let’s steer more into cautious optimism instead of a frenzied enthusiasm.
It’s been an incredible year for the 24-year-old slugger – one that’s turned heads of fans, members of the Cubs organization and those who cover the support. Now, with the season drawing to a close, it’s all eyes on Mervis – and what he’ll do for an encore.