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Mercedes touches 'em all for Ports

A's infield prospect plays all nine positions in victory over Blaze
September 3, 2016

On Saturday night, Melvin Mercedes embarked on a unique baseball adventure that took him around the horn, behind the plate and onto the bump.

The A's infield prospect played all nine positions for Class A Advanced Stockton, finishing the night on the mound, in the Ports' 8-3 win over Bakersfield at Banner Island Ballpark.

Last week, Stockton manager Rick Magnante informed Mercedes, who'd spent time at every position except first base, center field and catcher for the Ports this season, that he would be playing every position. Immediately, he began to look forward to the experience. 

"I didn't have a problem with moving around. I've already played most of the positions before today," Mercedes said. "I had a lot of fun. It was a day to remember."

Mercedes started the game at third base, his usual position, and started an around-the-horn double play to end the opening inning.

In each of the next three frames, Mercedes moved one spot to his left, culminating in his debut at first base in the fourth, where he made two putouts. 

"It felt great to see the view from every position." he said. "I kept thinking about how cool it was that I got to see the game from the perspective of each different player. Everybody was asking, 'Where do I go?' when we switched, but I helped them out. They were cheering me on and just rooting for me to get through the day."

In between the fourth and fifth, Mercedes traded his cap in for a helmet and mask and got ready to catch for the first time since he was a teenager.

The 24-year-old New Yorker didn't look out of place behind the dish as he guided A's No. 3 prospect Grant Holmes through a scoreless inning before heading out to left field for the sixth.

"Before today, I was catching a few bullpens just to feel comfortable with it. I had a little trouble with the low pitches but thank God, everything went well," Mercedes said. "It was pretty tough to catch Holmes, I'm not going to lie. He has a good sinker, changeup and slider. And he throws pretty hard. I just went back there, thinking that I didn't want to make it any harder than it already is."

In the seventh, Mercedes slid over to center field, meaning he'd played every position for the Ports in 2016. 

After completing his outfield work by manning right field in the eighth, Mercedes took the mound for the ninth with his team up by five runs. He'd already pitched twice this year, compiling a 3.86 ERA with two strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings.

"It felt good to have a few runs to work with; I wasn't worried," he said. "I closed like three or four games when I played summer ball and I like to pitch. I knew I just wanted to go in there and throw strikes."

Even with a nice cushion, Mercedes had his work cut out for him as he had to navigate the heart of the Blaze lineup. He made it look relatively easy, bookending a one-out walk to Jay Baum by striking out Chantz Mack and Kyle Petty.

"I used my fastball as a strikeout pitch against Mack and Petty," the College of Central Florida product said. "I don't know if they were mad, but I was just happy to get them out."

With one out to go, Mercedes got Joe DeCarlo to foul out to his batterymate, Iolana Akau. He admitted that he took a few peeks at the Banner Island Ballpark radar gun to see how hard he was throwing. 

"Ninety," Mercedes said. "But sometimes our radar here is a little off, by like two or three [mph]."

And on a night like Saturday, you round up.

Michael Leboff is a contributor to MiLB.com.