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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Kyle Mertins: Closing in on the Major Leagues

Going back to the glory days of Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz, the Atlanta Braves seem to have a knack for uncovering talented pitchers, and unleashing them on the rest of baseball. Whether by trade or draft and development, the organization has been churning out quality arms for the better part of two decades. They may have found another gem in the person of Kyle Mertins, a recent draft pick who has been climbing his way through their minor league system.

Mertins is a right-handed reliever, who was taken in the 28th round of the 2010 MLB draft, out of Cal State Fullerton. In his first two professional seasons, he has made it through three levels; pitching in the Gulf, Appalachian leagues; and most recently, the South Atlantic League in A-ball. If he continues to progress this quickly, Atlanta fans may see him at Turner Field within a year or two.

The Braves appear to like Mertin’s potential as a closer. In 42 total games, he has gone 1-6, with a 3.36 ERA and 12 saves. He has also struck out 46, while allowing just 60 hits and 3 home runs in 64.1 innings. For a more complete view of his statistics, please go to

Teams are constantly looking for quality relievers; providing a little more opportunity for bullpen prospects to break in if they have the talent. There are no givens in baseball, but it will be interesting to see how Mertins fares in 2012 and what plans the Braves have for his development. He recently answered some questions about himself and his baseball experience so others may find out a little more about this up and coming pitcher.

Kyle Mertins Interview:

Who was your favorite team and player growing up and why?:
I was always an Angels fan growing up because they were my hometown team, and I went to games a lot because it was close to the house. My favorite player was Darin Erstad because he played the game hard every day.

Can you run through what your draft experience was like?: It was pretty exciting for me because it was the day after we clinched a berth to super regionals. Also, two of my teammates and good friends were selected in the first round the day before, so we were all excited to continue our baseball careers.

Your college bio says you model your game after Scot Shields... What is it about him that you try to emulate, and why?: He is a sinker/slider type pitcher, which is similar to my pitching style. Being an Angel fan growing up, I got to see him pitch a lot, and our similar styles made me to model my game after his. Also, he was used in late relief to come in and get ground balls, similar to me during college and pro ball.

Do you ever second guess your decision to play professional baseball?: Never. I enjoy waking up every day and going to the field during the season, and training during the off season. I also have an older brother in the Royals organization, so it's pretty cool to say that we both are still playing.

What is the worst postgame meal a team has ever put out for you?: Well, the worst postgame meal is nothing at all, but the actual worst would probably be cup o’ noodles.

What is the craziest play you have seen in the minor leagues?: I haven't seen anything to crazy yet, but one of the cooler plays that I saw came last year when our catcher ran over the other team’s catcher on a base hit to win a game.


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