The Cubs have named first baseman Matt Mervis the Buck O’Neil Cubs Minor League Player of the Year and right-handed pitcher Luis Devers the Vedie Himsl Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no one had either at the top of their predictions for these honors heading into the season.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 12, 2022
Mervis, 24, hit .309 with 40 doubles, two triples, 36 home runs, 119 RBI, and 50 walks in the best offensive performance by a Cubs prospect since Kris Bryant in 2014. The man now known as Mash posted a .379 on-base percentage, .606 slugging percentage, and a .984 OPS in 137 games between High-A South Bend, Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa this season.
He led minor league baseball in RBI and tallied the most RBI by any minor leaguer in a season since Mason Martin recorded 129 in 2019. Mervis’s 36 home runs were the most by a Cubs minor leaguer in a season since Bryant hit 43 in 2014. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted in 2020, though that was only because the draft was shortened to five rounds that season.
Jed Hoyer said Monday that the Cubs had prioritized Mervis that summer, calling him mere minutes after the draft had concluded. They were able to convince the former two-way star at Duke that their hitting infrastructure would be best for their development, leading him to choose the Cubs over the Yankees. It didn’t hurt that the path to a starting job in Chicago might be a little clearer.
The 6-foot-4 lefty-batting Mervis has played 210 career minor league games in two seasons, batting .275 with 52 doubles, three triples, 45 home runs, 163 RBI, and an .881 OPS. Most of that obviously came this season after he looked back at his debut professional campaign and realized he needed to make some changes. The biggest of those was simply learning to get out of his own head during games and letting his swing do the work.
Just in case there are any fellow Merverts out there who would like to show their support for Mash, Obvious Shirts has a few options.
Devers went 13-3 with a 1.91 ERA, 122 strikeouts, and a 0.95 WHIP while holding opponents to a .206 average in 26 games (22 starts) for Low-A Myrtle Beach and South Bend. The 22-year-old right-hander completed at least 5.0 innings in 18 of his starts and allowed two or fewer runs in 22 outings. He began the 2022 campaign by going 9-3 with a 2.58 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) with Myrtle Beach, then went 4-0 with a 1.05 ERA in 11 games (eight starts) with South Bend.
After going 4-1 with a 1.48 ERA, 28 strikeouts, and a 0.90 WHIP in five starts, Devers was named the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month for May. His 13 wins were the most among Cubs minor leaguers and tied for the third-most in minor league baseball, while his 1.91 ERA was the second-lowest among minor leaguers with at least 20 starts this season.
A Samaná, D.R., native, Devers owns a career 20-17 record with a 2.53 ERA and 290 strikeouts in 291.2 innings across 68 minor league games. Those have come in parts of five professional seasons, all with the Cubs organization. Devers signed with the Cubs as an undrafted free agent on July 20, 2017.