Watch Cubs sluggers Nelson Velazquez and Matt Mervis rake against Brewers
With Chicago Cubs starting right fielder Seiya Suzuki in jeopardy of missing Opening Day while he recovers from a left oblique strain, there is an opportunity for extended plate appearances for a handful of the team's young position players.
Among the players included in that mix are outfielder Nelson Velazquez and first base prospect Matt Mervis. The two wasted little time in making the most of the opportunity as they put on an offensive showcase against the Milwaukee Brewers during Tuesday's Spring Training game.
Beginning with Mervis, the left-handed slugger showed off his ability to drive to the opposite side of the field as he mashed a double to left-center field.
Mervis will be participating in the World Baseball Classic with Team Isreal next month. Mervis is set to depart Cubs' camp this weekend as he prepares for the tournament but with Suzuki expected to miss approximately 6-8 weeks, there has been speculation that Trey Mancini may get an extended look in right field to begin the season. If that happens, Mervis could be a surprise addition to the Cubs' Opening Day roster while serving as the team's designated hitter.
Similarly, Velazquez, a natural outfielder, may have an increased chance at making the Opening Day roster now that the outfield picture may not be as crowded to begin the season. Despite the struggles that Velazquez had during his rookie season with the Cubs last season, he still is only 24 years old and has plenty of power in his bat. That power was on display in Tuesday's game against the Brewers.
There is no question that Velazquez's power will play at the Major League level. The question is whether or not Velazquez can make more contact than he did in 2022. Consistent playing time may be the key and that opportunity now is available in right field for the Cubs at the Major League level.