Standout righty slides into Phillies Top 30 prospects after Orion Kerkering graduates

Michael Mercado finds himself as a Phillies Top 30 prospect following the graduation of Orion Kerkering.
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MLB Pipeline has removed Philadelphia Phillies reliever Orion Kerkering from their Top 30 list of the club's best prospects. The talented young right-hander has cemented his roster spot in the big leagues and a new young player rounds out the rankings.

Standout righty slides into Phillies Top 30 prospects after Orion Kerkering graduates

Michael Mercado is now among the Phillies' Top 30 best prospects according to MLB Pipeline. He makes his debut on the list as the No. 30 Phillies prospect. Philadelphia acquired the 25-year-old from the Tampa Bay Rays last offseason for right-hander Adam Leverett and cash considerations.

Mercado has done very well with the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in 2024. He started as a reliever with the club, making four appearances out of the bullpen. The Greenville, South Carolina native made his first start on April 20 against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. He allowed zero earned runs, no walks, two hits and had two strikeouts in three innings pitched.

The 2017 second-round draft pick allowed no earned runs, no hits, and one walk, with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings during his second start versus the Charlotte Knights on April 26. In Mercado's third starting appearance against the Worcester Red Sox on May 2, he allowed his first earned run of the year, walked five batters, and surrendered two hits with two strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.

He pitched five innings on May 8 versus the Syracuse Mets. Mercado allowed three hits, one unearned run and one walk with five strikeouts. On May 15 against the Norfolk Tides, the 25-year-old pitched five innings with seven strikeouts. He allowed one hit, one walk, and zero earned runs.

Mercado incurred his first loss in his latest start versus the Rochester Red Wings on May 21. The right-hander allowed two runs (one earned), three hits and four walks with one strikeout. For the season, he has a 0.63 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. In 28 2/3 innings pitched, he has 26 strikeouts, 15 walks, and 15 hits surrendered. The native of South Carolina has allowed four runs - two of them earned.

Could Mercado earn a promotion to the majors this season for the first time in his career? If he continues to pitch exceptionally with Lehigh Valley, the Phillies may want to see his talent at the big-league level. He may earn a look if Philly suffers multiple injuries to its bullpen over a short period. He has shown his potential, leading to him being placed in the Top 30 list of their best prospects.