3 Chicago Cubs Players to Watch in the World Baseball Classic
This list would not be complete without the Cubs' most hyped prospect of this off-season. Matt Mervis will be representing Israel in the WBC. Mervis is the Cubs' number 21 ranked prospect. Mervis is more recently being referred to as Mash Mervis because of his performance in 2022. In 512 minor league at-bats, between three levels, Mervis hit .309 with 36 home runs and 119 RBI while slugging over .600. It is easy to see why fans are raving about him and would like to see him in the majors sooner rather than later. However, he still has a lot to prove, and with only two seasons of professional ball under his belt, he might not be ready for the MLB yet.
Playing in the WBC will put Mervis against big-league pitching, just as it will Owen Caissie. Unlike Caissie, Mervis is in the hardest pool of the whole tournament. Israel will have to play the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and a Nicaragua team with a lot of momentum. These teams are stacked with really good pitchers, so Mervis will have his work cut out for him. Facing pitchers like Sandy Alcantara, Edwin Diaz, and Pablo Lopez could be really good for him. Many people want Mervis on the opening-day roster, and if he can come out of this pool as one of the top hitters in the tournament it will only make their argument stronger.
The Cubs signed Trey Mancini and Eric Hosmer during the off-season making it even more unlikely that Mervis starts the season on the opening-day roster. However, with a good spring training and a solid showing at the WBC Mervis could make a case for himself to be the first call-up of the season. This is especially true if Hosmer or Mancini get hurt. Israel begins their WBC journey on March 12th and Matt Mervis should be their starting first baseman.