Former Oklahoma State player Jordy Mercer proving his worth with the Pittsburgh Pirates

The kid from the tiny town of Taloga, Okla., has been up and down from Triple-A to the big leagues this season, but his production in the past two seasons has definitely put him on the Pirates' radar.
by Michael Baldwin Published: May 26, 2013
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photo - Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) warms up on-deck at PNC Park during a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, May 15, 2013. The Pirates won 3-1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) ORG XMIT: PAGP120
Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) warms up on-deck at PNC Park during a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, May 15, 2013. The Pirates won 3-1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) ORG XMIT: PAGP120

Mercer, who played for Team USA in the Pan American Games in 2007 and 2011, is a middle infielder. He can play second or short. He's even played a little third base.

During his three-year career at Oklahoma State, Mercer hit .303. He slammed 25 career homers with 108 RBIs. He also served as the Cowboys' closer, recording 17 career saves.

“I tell people all the time if I could go back to OSU for one more year I'd do it in a heartbeat,” Mercer said. “I made friends for life. I still talk with Rebel Ridling and Jeff Breedlove, Billy Jones, Greg Evans, coach Frank Anderson and other guys. I'll keep up with them for life. I loved every minute of it.”

Seeking an opportunity

In his first game this season with the Pirates on May 6, Mercer slammed a go-ahead, two-run homer that was the difference in a 3-1 win over the Washington Nationals.

Still, there are no guarantees Mercer will stay in the majors when everyone on the roster is healthy.

“I take it day by day,” Mercer said. “You know there's a business side to it. You don't know what's going to happen in the future. I'm just having fun with it. When I get to play I try to make the most of it.”

When the Pirates had a middle infield opening earlier this month, Josh Harrison was an option. Hurdle made it clear he wanted Mercer.

“From opening day until (the call up) he played better than everybody else there (in Indianapolis),” Hurdle told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

After he hit .333 with 11 walks and a .500 on-base percentage in spring training, Huntington informed Mercer the organization was pleased with his progress ... but he was being sent to Indianapolis.

“We challenged him to continue to carry it forward,” Huntington said. “We also gave him some things that he can continue to work on to be a legitimate option for us at short next year.”

Mercer said it was difficult to hear he was being sent to Triple-A. He responded by hitting .333 with 19 RBIs in 26 games with Indianapolis.

“It was tough,” Mercer said. “I worked hard in the offseason and prepared myself really hard. Obviously I was disappointed. But I knew they wanted me to play shortstop every day. I had a little chip on my shoulder and wanted to go down and make the most of it.”

Mercer now lives in Edmond with his wife, Kasey, a Deer Creek girl he met at OSU. They have a nine-month-old son, Maverick.

A year after making his big league debut, Mercer is playing for an organization attempting to end a 20-year sub.-500 drought.

“The fans love this team. They're hungry,” Mercer said. “They have the Steelers and Penguins who are both really good. But this is a good baseball town, too. They can't wait for the Pirates to win again.”

Hitting .300 with three homers in 50 at bats with Pittsburgh this season, Mercer might have to wait until next season to get a shot at an everyday job in the majors, but if he continues to produce it increases his odds.

“One of my goals this season is to play as consistent as possible,” Mercer said. “Baseball is a game that's hard to do. But I feel I've been playing pretty well which is why I was called back up.”

When he returns to Taloga, Jordy and his parents eat with senior citizens. It doesn't take long to say hi to nearly everyone in a community of 300.

“A lot of the same people are there from back when I was in high school,” Mercer said. “Everyone eats at the same place for lunch. They tell me they watch me all the time. It's a pretty cool feeling, a kid from Taloga playing in the majors.”


by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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