This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: August 27th, Jordy Mercer

Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.

Nick Tropeano, pitcher for the 2020 Pirates. He was a fifth round draft pick in 2011 out of Stony Brook University by the Houston Astros. He debuted in short-season ball in the New York-Penn League, posting a 2.36 ERA in 12 starts. In 2012, Tropeano split the season between Low-A and High-A, combining to go 12-7, 3.02 in 158 innings, with 166 strikeouts. He had similar results at each level, doing slightly better at the lower  level. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and had a 3.00 ERA in 15 innings. He spent 2013 in Double-A, playing for Corpus Christi of the Texas League, where he posted a 7-10, 4.11 record in 133.2 innings, with 130 strikeouts. Tropeano spent 2014 in Triple-A, where he had a 9-5, 3.03 record in 124.2 innings, with 120 strikeouts and an 0.99 WHIP. He was a September call-up to the Astros, going 1-3, 4.57 in four starts. Shortly after the season ended, he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels, where he stayed until he reached free agency after the 2019 season. Tropeano made seven starts and a relief appearance with the 2015 Angels, going 3-2, 3.86 in 37.2 innings, with 38 strikeouts. The next year he went 3-2, 3.56 in 13 starts, striking out 68 batters in 68.1 innings. In August of that season, he had Tommy John surgery, which cost him all of 2017. He returned in 2018 to make 14 starts at the big league level after three rehab starts in the minors. He went 5-6, 4.74 in 76 innings for the Angels that year. In 2019, Tropeano spent most of the year in Triple-A. He had a 9.88 ERA in his limited big league work. He signed with the New York Yankees as a free agent in February of 2020, but he never pitched for them due to the shortened season. The Pirates picked him up on waivers and he made seven appearances, allowing two runs in 15.2 innings, with 19 strikeouts. Tropeano was put on waivers in October, where he was picked up by the New York Mets. Through mid-August in 2021, he has played for the Mets and San Francisco Giants in the majors, and the Mets, Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers in Triple-A. Through mid-August of 2021, he has a 14-14, 4.22 big league record in 241 innings, with 39 starts and 15 relief appearances.

Jordy Mercer, shortstop for the 2012-18 Pirates. He was a third round pick of the Pirates in the 2008 draft out of Oklahoma State. Three years earlier he was drafted out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 26th round. He had a very brief stop in the New York-Penn League before moving up to Low-A in 2008, where he hit .250 with four homers in 50 games. In 2009 he moved up to Lynchburg and hit .255 with 50 extra-base hits in 131 games. He was in Double-A Altoona for the 2010 season, hitting .282 with 31 doubles in 126 games. Mercer went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and hit .267 with a homer in 20 games. In 2011, he split the year between Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, posting much better results at the lower level. He combined to hit .255 with 30 doubles, 19 homers and 69 RBIs in 132 games. He started 2012 in Triple-A and hit .287 with four homers in 56 games. Mercer made it to the majors in late May of 2012 and was used more as a utility fielder during his first two seasons. He hit .210 with one homer in 42 games for the 2012 Pirates. In 2013, which included a 26-game stint in Triple-A, he batted .285 with 32 extra-base hits in 103 games with the Pirates. His .772 OPS that season was the best of his career.

Mercer took over shortstop full-time in 2014 and stayed there for five full years before reaching free agency. Mercer’s best season at the plate came in 2013, but his best overall season came in 2014, thanks in part to a career best 1.2 dWAR. He hit .255 with 27 doubles, 12 homers, 55 RBIs and 56 runs scored in 149 games that season. He missed some time due to a knee injury in 2015, and finished the year hitting .244 with 21 doubles and three homers in 116 games. He set career highs with runs (66), hits (133), RBIs (59) and walks (51) in 2016, while batting .256 in 149 games. Mercer’s 14 homers in 2017 stands as his career best. That year he batted .255 with 24 doubles, 58 RBIs, 51 walks and 52 runs scored in 145 games. In his final season in Pittsburgh, he hit .251, with a career high 29 doubles and six homers, playing 117 games.

Mercer signed as a free agent during the winter of 2018-19 with the Detroit Tigers. He batted .270 with 16 doubles and nine homers in 74 games in 2019, playing all four infield spots. He re-signed with the Tigers for 2020, though he moved on to the New York Yankees after just three games. He played just nine games total during the shortened 2020 season, then signed with the Washington Nationals as a free agent in 2021. Through mid-August, he was batting .267 with one homer in 37 games, seeing most of his playing time at second base and third base. With the Pirates, Mercer was a .256/.316/.383 hitter in 821 games, with 55 homers and 227 RBIs. He’s a career .257 hitter, with 65 homers and 303 RBIs in 941 games.

Mike Maddux, pitcher for the 1995 Pirates. He is the brother of Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux and often got lost in his shadow, but Mike Maddux ended up playing 15 seasons in the majors, pitching a total of 472 games split between nine different teams. Maddux was drafted out of high school in 1979 by the Cincinnati Reds, but chose not to sign until 1982, when he was selected in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Phillies out of UTEP. He went to short-season ball his first season, where he had a 3.99 ERA in 65.1 innings for Bend of the Northwest League. The next season he moved up from Low-A (13 starts) to Double-A, where he made one start, with 14 starts in between at High-A. He had his best success that year in High-A, posting a 3.62 ERA in 99.1 innings. Maddux split the 1984 season between Double-A and Triple-A, with poor results at each level. He combined to go 5-16, 5.27 in 160.2 innings. The entire 1985 season was spent in Triple-A, with similar numbers to the previous year, going 9-12, 5.31 in 166 innings. In 1986, he showed a remarkable improvement in Triple-A, going 5-2, 2.36 in 84 innings over 12 starts, which led to his first shot in the big leagues.

Maddux made his Major League debut in June of 1986 as a starting pitcher, though he made his mark in the majors as a reliever. He went 3-7, 5.42 in 16 starts for the 1986 Phillies. He didn’t spend him first full season in the majors until 1991. Maddux split the 1986-89 seasons with the Phillies between Triple-A and the majors. He had a 2.65 ERA in 17 innings with the 1987 Phillies, making two starts and five relief appearances. In 1988, he had a 3.76 ERA in 88.2 innings over 11 starts and 14 relief outings. That was followed by a 1-5, 5.15 record in 43.2 innings in 1989. He was released by the Phillies in November of 1989 and signed a month later with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Most of the 1990 season was spent in Triple-A. Maddux had a 6.53 ERA in 20.2 innings with the Dodgers. He was let go at the end of the season and signed with the San Diego Padres in late March of 1991. That season he ended up going 7-2, 2.46 in 98.2 innings over 64 outings. He had similar success in relief in 1992 with the Padres, posting a 2.37 ERA in 79.2 innings over 50 games. He picked up five saves each season in San Diego. Maddux was traded to the New York Mets in December of 1992. In 1993, he had a 3-8, 3.60 record in 75 innings over 58 appearances, once again picking up five saves.

Maddux struggled during the strike-shortened 1994 season, posting a 5.11 ERA in 44 innings. He signed with the Pirates in April of 1995 as a free agent. His stay with the Pirates was short, amounting to eight relief outings, with a 9.00 ERA in nine innings. He was released in mid-May, then signed two weeks later with the Boston Red Sox. Maddux had a 3.61 ERA in 89.2 innings over 36 appearances in Boston. He stayed with the Red Sox in 1996 and went 3-2, 4.48 in 64.1 innings over seven starts and 16 relief appearances. His big league time in 1997 was limited to a 10.13 ERA in 10.2 innings in 1997 with the Seattle Mariners. He rebounded in 1998 with the Montreal Expos, posting a 3-4, 3.72 record in 55.2 innings over 51 appearances. With the Expos to start 1999, he allowed five runs over five innings before being released. He was signed quickly by the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he had a 3.29 ERA in 54.2 innings over 49 outings. Maddux stayed around until 2000, ending his playing days with the Houston Astros, where he had a 6.26 ERA in 21 games. He had a career record of 39-37, 4.05 over 861.2 innings, with 20 saves in 472 games (48 starts). He has served as a pitching coach since 2002, first in the minors, then for six seasons with the Brewers (2003-08), seven years for the Texas Rangers (2009-15), two years with the Washington Nationals (2016-17) and the last four years with the St Louis Cardinals.

Mike Edwards, second baseman for the 1977 Pirates. He was a seventh round draft pick of the Pirates in 1974 out of the University of California.  He finally signed a contract after being drafted three other times, twice by the California Angels and once by the Montreal Expos. The Angels took him out of high school in the 18th round in June of 1970. They picked him again in the fourth round during the January 1971 draft. The Expos selected Edwards in the fifth round in 1972. He went to the New York-Penn League after signing with the Pirates and hit .313 in 69 games, with 25 steals and 21 extra-base hits. In 1975, he split the season between Double-A and Triple-A, combining to hit .298 with 40 extra-base hits and 30 steals in 124 games. Edwards also split the 1976 season between Double-A and Triple-A. He had an .832 OPS in 53 games with Shreveport of the Texas League (Double-A), bu he hit just .206 with six walks in 62 games with Charleston of the International League. His first full year at Triple-A was much more successful. In 1977, Edwards hit .296 with 77 runs scored, 61 RBIs and he stole 62 bases. His previous stolen base high was 30 during his first three years. The Pirates made him a September call-up, getting him into seven games. He went hitless in six at-bats. Just before the 1978 season started, he was sent to the Oakland A’s as the player to be named later in a deal for Manny Sanguillen.

Edwards saw plenty of playing time with Oakland over the next two season, playing a combined 264 games, with most of his time spent at second base. He hit .273 with 21 steals and 48 runs scored in 1978. After batting .233 and leading all AL second baseman in errors for a second consecutive year in 1979, he saw very limited time during the 1980 season. He played just 46 games and had 63 plate appearances all year. He was released by the A’s following the season and didn’t play the next year. He played in the Mexican League in 1982, then on to Japan for one season, before finishing his career in 1984 back in Mexico. He batted .250 with 94 runs scored, two homers, 49 RBIs and 38 steals (in 68 attempts) in 317 big league games. Edwards had a younger brother named Dave Edwards, who played five seasons in the majors, spending time with the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres.  He also had a twin brother named Marshall, who spent three seasons (1981-83) with the Milwaukee Brewers. Marshall batted and threw lefty, while Mike did both from the right side. The Pirates also had a Mike Edwards (of no relation) on their 2006 team.

Charlie Engle, infielder for the 1930 Pirates. He broke into pro ball by reaching the majors in his first season, playing for the Philadelphia Athletics for one game as a defensive replacement in September of 1925 at 21 years old. He began the year with Greensboro of the Class-C Piedmont League, where he hit .246 in 125 games, with 32 extra-base hits. Engle hit .285 in 101 games with Greensboro in 1926, collecting 29 extra-base hits. He got a slightly bigger chance with the A’s, playing 19 games from mid-June through late July. He hit .105 with two singles in 19 at-bats, but he managed to walk ten times and he was hit by a pitch once, which resulted in the odd .105/.433/.105 slash line. Engle then spent the next three seasons playing for Memphis of the Southern Association, serving as the team’s everyday shortstop. He batted .260 with 22 extra-base hits in 155 games in 1927. In 1928, he had a .271 average, with 24 extra-base hits in 154 games. The Pirates took him in the October 1929 Rule 5 draft after he hit .302 with 21 doubles and six triples in 141 games that season for Memphis. He was the Pirates starting third baseman to begin the 1930 season, then after not playing for 11 days in late May, he took over at shortstop for a month and a half. After being benched again, he started playing second base, seeing sporadic playing time there over the last two months. Most of his playing time came as a replacement for an injured player. Engle finished the season hitting .264 with 15 RBIs and 34 runs scored. On October 28, 1930, he was released outright to Fort Worth of the Texas League, which marked the end of his big league career. He returned to the minors in 1931 and ended up playing 11 more years before the war started, with most of that time spent in the Texas League, where he saw action with four different teams. He then ran a team called the Charlie Engle All-Stars for a time, returning to pro ball once the war was over. He was a player/manager in 1946, then managed another three seasons in the minors afterwards. While his big league career amounted to just 87 games, he played over 1,800 minor league games.

Eddie Mulligan, infielder for the 1928 Pirates. He played five seasons in the majors, spread out over a 13-year time period. His pro career spanned 25 years, beginning in 1914 as a teenager. The Chicago Cubs signed Mulligan soon after he began playing pro ball, bringing him to the majors at the end of the 1915 season at 21 years old. He had a strong debut, hitting .364 in limited time, with an .891 OPS. In 1916, he had a terrible time trying to keep up with the fast pace of Major League ball. He hit .153 in 58 games, with 40 errors at shortstop before the Cubs gave up on him. He was traded to the minors, where he spent the rest of the 1916 season and most of 1917 before entering the Army during WWI. When he returned, he played for Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League for two seasons prior to joining the Chicago White Sox. Mulligan hit .269 with 33 extra-base hits in 137 games in 1919. That was followed up by a .299 average and 52 extra-base hits in 179 games in 1920, which earned him a spot with Chicago. The 1921 season was the best of his Major League career. He hit .251 with 82 runs scored, 21 doubles,12 triples and 45 RBIs in 151 games for the White Sox, getting 150 starts at third base. He was the replacement that season for Buck Weaver, one of the eight players suspended for throwing the 1919 World Series (Black Sox scandal). Mulligan was the starting third baseman for most of the 1922 season as well, hitting .234 in 103 games, with 14 doubles, eight triples and a .593 OPS.

Mulligan returned to the minors in 1923, spending the next five seasons playing for the San Francisco Seals of the PCL, where he played an average of 175 games per year. He batted .329 during the 1923 season, then followed it up with a .306 average, 51 doubles and 13 homers in 1924. His average slipped to .286 in 1925, but it came with 63 extra-base hits. His production really dropped off in 1926, when he batted .263 with 37 extra-base hits in 182 games. Mulligan regained a bit of his offense in 1927, hitting .274 with 46 doubles in 170 games, though he had just one triple and six homers. The Pirates sent infielder Hal Rhyne back to the Seals in February, then on March 18, 1928, they picked up Mulligan. It was said to be two separate deals, but it was believed at the time that the cash for both players for $10,000, and they off-set each other. Mulligan saw very little time with the Pirates, especially after May. After starting a few games at second base in mid-May, he replaced a sick Pie Traynor for a few games at the end of the month. Once the calendar hit June though, he began every game on the bench and never played in the field again all season. He made eight appearances as a pinch-hitter and six as a pinch-runner, finishing with a .233 average and four runs scored in 27 games. Mulligan returned to the PCL, where he spent the next ten seasons before ending his career in 1939 as a player/manager for the Salt Lake City Bees of the Pioneer League. Despite spending five seasons with San Francisco in the PCL, he basically played everywhere except San Francisco when he returned, seeing time with Mission, Seattle, Portland, San Diego and Oakland. He is a member of the PCL Hall of Fame and was an accomplished soccer player as a youth, playing as a pro before he baseball career began. His big league career amounted to a .232 average with one homer, 88 RBIs and 143 runs scored in 350 games.

Dave Wright, pitcher for the Pirates on July 22, 1895. Wright joined the Pirates on July 12, 1895 on a trial basis. It was said that he was in Pittsburgh that day and given a tryout by Pirates manager Connie Mack, who said that the young pitcher made a favorable impression and he would be tried out by the team soon. The next day the Pirates purchased his release from the Twin City Hustlers and signed him to a contract. On July 15th, just three days later, the Pirates played an exhibition game against Wheeling of the Interstate League. On the mound for the first time wearing a Pirates uniform was 19-year-old Dave Wright, who was booed unmercifully by the Wheeling fans because he beat their team earlier in the year while playing for the Twin City, who happened to be in the same league. The Pirates won 9-6 and the scouting report on Wright was that he had good size and an above average curveball with good control. It was also said that he had much to learn, but he was young and willing to listen and put in the work. The Pirates had a five-day break in the National League schedule in mid-July 1895, but they didn’t take time off, they played exhibition games instead to make extra money. Wright got another chance to pitch in front of the Pirates, before he pitched in a game that counted. At that same time, Pittsburgh also picked up pitcher Brownie Foreman, giving both new hurlers a trial.

There were calls from the Pittsburgh crowd for Wright to make his first appearance on July 20th, after the Pirates went up big early on the Philadelphia Phillies. Star pitcher Pink Hawley ended up finishing that game he started and Wright would have to wait two more days before his big league debut. Hawley ended up starting the next game (after an off-day) and he got hit hard, going seven innings against the Baltimore Orioles before he was pulled in favor of Wright. Making his Major League debut against a team right in the middle of their three-year run of NL pennants, he got hit around hard, giving up six runs in his first inning. He pitched a scoreless ninth, but the damage was done. His ERA with the Pirates forever stands at 27.00 in his one game.

Wright made it back to the majors two years later, pitching one game for the Chicago Colts (Cubs). He faced the Pirates in Pittsburgh and gave up 14 runs on 17 hits and two walks in seven innings. You may wonder why manager Cap Anson would leave him in so long for such a beating and the answer is simple, to pick up the 15-14 win in the shortened game. Wright actually had a 15-5 lead after five and a half innings, allowing five runs in the six and four in the seventh before the game was ended early. He never played in the majors again, retiring after a poor showing during the 1898 season in the minors. His only other minor league time on record was in 1895, prior and after his time with the Pirates. He was loaned to New Castle of the Iron and Oil League in late July of 1895, with Pirates manager Connie Mack saying at the time that he believed that Wright would be a great pitcher by 1896. On September 8th it was announced that the Pirates released Wright. The local Pittsburgh papers noted that he was back playing for Twin City of the Interstate League later that month. Wright attended a Pirates game in May of 1897 and said that he was out of baseball, but might pitch for a Western League team. In July he was pitching semi-pro ball in the Pittsburgh area for a team from Burgettstown, Pa., which is how his trial came along with Chicago.