Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mercado 'Couldn't Be Any Happier'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mercado 'Couldn't Be Any Happier'

Article excerpt

Oscar Mercado's brand-new Cardinals jersey was buttoned over his shirt and tie, his hat fitted perfectly, as he spoke with reporters for the first time as a member of the Cardinals organization.

It was an exciting day for the 18-year-old shortstop. The second- round pick out of Tampa Bay arrived at Busch Stadium for his physical, signed his contract with a $1.5 million bonus and met with the team he hopes to be playing for in the near future.

"Well, it's a lot better than the Trop (Tropicana Field), I'll tell you that," Mercado said. "There's a lot more people that come to this stadium. But it's awesome. It's more of a baseball environment.

"I mean, it was a little overwhelming," Mercado said. "Those guys (the Cardinals) are huge down there. I've got a long way to go. It's just exciting to know that I can be a part of all of this, and hopefully one day I'll be out here playing with these guys."

The Cardinals drafted Mercado with the 57th overall selection in this year's draft, despite the fact that he was rated No. 38 in Baseball America's top 500 prospects.

He had already committed to play baseball at Florida State but jumped at the opportunity to play professional ball when he found out that he could be playing with the Cardinals.

"I loved the organization I landed with, that had a lot to do with it," Mercado said. "Obviously when it comes to college, I did want to go to college, and obviously it was going to take a good amount for me to bypass that. But all the right pieces landed together, and I feel like I couldn't be any happier where I landed."

Mercado, who is known more for his defense than his offense, will be heading out to Jupiter, Fla. on Wednesday to start his season with the Golf Coast League Cardinals, which begins Saturday.

He's excited to start playing but knows that it will be a huge difference from the high school level that he is accustomed to playing at.

"The physical level that all the players are at, and just how serious it is," Mercado said. "Obviously when you get to high school, you've got kids worrying about other stuff, but now this is peoples' jobs. People do it for a living, so it gets serious. …

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