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Can Cubs prospect Matt Mervis become ‘The next Anthony Rizzo’?

Can Cubs prospect Matt Mervis become ‘The next Anthony Rizzo’?

Cubs prospect Matt Mervis: ‘The next Anthony Rizzo’? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Barely a week after a Cubs owner uttered the now famous phrase about “biblical” losses, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, promising college first baseman Matt Mervis made an astute business decision.

Yankees or Cubs?

The Duke senior, who went unpicked in the pandemic-shortened, five-round draft that finished just short of where he might have been selected in 2020, had four teams he considered as a free agent, narrowed it to two, and then looked at the Yankees roster and their big-spending history. Then he looked at the direction of the Cubs roster.

Then took the road less congested. And so far it has made all the difference.

“Obviously, I wasn’t predicting a full trade deadline [selloff] and all that stuff,” Mervis said by phone the other day. “But the short answer is yes. I looked at Rizzo’s contract and his age and said either the Cubs are going to sign him and I play behind him for a couple years or the Yankees go out and sign a first baseman.”

Or the Yankees go out and trade for that first baseman, then sign him as a free agent?

Either way, get a load of the most prolific hitter in the Cubs organization now.

After two more hits for Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday, including his 33rd home run, he’s one off the lead in home runs for all minor leaguers and is working on a Cubs’ organizational Triple Crown, hitting .312 with 111 RBIs (and a .991 OPS) in 125 games.

“I think I made the right decision,” he said.

Mervis, 24, won’t get called up for a big-league look when his Triple-A season ends because the Cubs can’t spare the 40-man roster spot that would require.

But heads up, Frank Schwindel, Patrick Wisdom and anybody else who might have designs on filling that gaping hole at first base that still exists since Rizzo was sent to the Yankees last year in the Cubs Great 2021 Roster Purge.

Mervis, whose amateur stock jumped after a good showing in the prestigious Cape Cod League the summer ahead of his senior season at Duke, is headed to the Arizona Fall league in a few weeks and is expected to be back in Mesa for his first big-league spring training in February.

“We knew he could hit, and we absolutely believed in him,” Cubs farm director Jared Banner said, “but to say that we expected him to dominate at three levels would be disingenuous. To the level that he’s dominated and how quickly he’s done it is really…

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