Carson, Nevada grad gets taste of pro ball
September 13, 2004
Joe Mercer had to wait long enough to finally receive a chance to play professional baseball.
And even though Mercer’s stint was only 13 games and he’s already been released, the former Carson High and University of Nevada baseball standout said the experience was well worth it. It’s also likely that Mercer should receive the chance to continue to play – at least based on his performance in limited action.
Mercer, a 2000 CHS graduate, signed on Aug. 6 with the San Angelo Colts in Texas of the independent Central League. Mercer, who was a standout catcher at Carson, played mostly third base with the Colts, the position he played this past season for the Wolf Pack.
With Nevada, Mercer hit .313 this past year on his way to being named to the all-Western Athletic Conference second team.
But despite being a left-handed hitter with power who could play several different positions, Mercer went undrafted by Major League teams and went most of the summer without being given any opportunities. The biggest reason was likely because Mercer has had knee problems in the past and doesn’t run all that well. Mercer had been drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2001.
Nevada assistant coach Chris Briones, though, kept calling on Mercer’s behalf and there was an opening with the Colts.
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“And I filled in,” Mercer said.
Mercer filled in well, hitting .316 (12-for-38) in 13 games with eight walks, two doubles and 13 RBI. Mercer also played first base for San Angelo, but playing first base cost him as he hurt his shoulder in a collision, forcing him to miss the last two games of the year.
“It was just one of those freak accidents,” Mercer said. “It wasn’t dirty. It was just one of those things that happened.”
Despite performing well, Mercer was released by San Angelo on Tuesday. Mercer was told on Monday by Colts manager John Harris that he was being released. Mercer said the manager told him that it was standard to release virtually all of the players on the roster except for a couple of veterans. Mercer also said that he was told that Harris would like to re-sign him.
“You never know,” Mercer said. “I don’t know. I never really experienced it. I don’t know what’s going on.
“I’m just trying to get healthy right now so if they re-sign me I’ll be healthy enough to play.”
Mercer obviously wants the chance to play anywhere next year, beginning in the spring. “I want to keep playing,” he said.
Major League teams are focusing more on independent leagues and Mercer hopes that the chance he’s receiving will lead to being placed on a team affiliated with a Major League club.
“I put up decent numbers I thought,” said Mercer about his time with the Colts. “Hopefully this gets me a job some place else.”
But Mercer is just thankful to receive the chance to play at the independent level even though the pay isn’t that great.
“You can’t beat that at all,” said Mercer about being paid to play baseball. “It’s still a game. If you get to get paid, it makes it that much better.”
Mercer said he was also thankful for the chance to play even though it came late.
“It wasn’t that disappointing,” said Mercer about not being signed earlier. It just made it more gratifying when you do get your opportunity.”
Independent teams normally have many veteran players on their rosters who are trying to restore their careers. Mercer said playing with veterans like that made the experience more rewarding.
“It was a great time,” said Mercer, who’s now attending classes at the University of Nevada. “It was a great experience. It’s basically learning from older guys, trying to pick their brains as much as you can.”
Contact Charles Whisnand at email@example.com or 881-1214.