Yermin Mercedes’ long road to the majors began with Nationals assistant GM of international operations John Dipuglia, who is best known for presiding over the team’s signings of Juan Soto, Victor Robles and a number of other Latin American players.
Mercedes, 28, was another Dipuglia find, a $20,000 signing in March 2011 out of the same camp in the Dominican Republic that later produced Soto. But the Nats released Mercedes in Aug. 2013, after he had played three seasons at the rookie-level Dominican Summer League. Eight years later, in the wake of his stunning debut with the White Sox, Dipuglia admits he didn’t have the proper read on Mercedes.
“I misjudged the makeup,” Dipuglia said. “For him to get to the big leagues after the struggles he had, it shows me he had a lot more mental fortitude than I thought he did. He had some discipline problems over here, I won’t deny that.”
Mercedes, after getting released by the Nationals, played for three independent-league teams in 2014 — the San Angelo (Tx.) Colts of the United League, and the Douglas (Ariz.) Diablos and White Sands (N.M.) Pupfish of the Pecos League. The Orioles signed him in September of that season. “He always could hit,” said their former GM, Dan Duquette, echoing the words of Dipuglia and pretty much every other baseball person who has seen Mercedes swing a bat.