Sunday, May 2, 2010

Retro Mariner Sunday 5/2/10

Time again to take our Sunday trip in the Mariners of the past. I decided to go with a guy that was with the team when I first became a Mariners fan. Orlando Mercado was originally signed by the Mariners in January of 1978 as a 16 year prospect out of Puerto Rico.

After signing with the M's, he started in 1978 with the low A Bellingham Mariners and started his journey of the ladder of minor league ball. In 1979, he moved up to the high A San Jose Missions. 1980 saw Orlando move up to AA with the Lynn Sailors. After spending 1981 with the AAA Spokane Indians, the M's moved the AAA affiliation to the Salt Lake City Gulls. While spending the 1982 in AAA, the Mariners made Orlando a September call up in 1982. He made his Major League debut on September 13, 1982  in Kansas City as a defensive replacement for Jim Essian. Orlando got his first start in the Kingdome on Sept. 19, 1982 against the Texas Rangers. With two outs and the bases loaded, Orlando collected his first hit off Steve Comer, hitting a grand slam. 1983 and 1984 saw Orlando continue to bounce between Salt Lake and Seattle.
At the end of the 1984 season the Mariners called up a young hot shot catcher by the name of Dave Valle. At the end of spring training in 1985, the Mariners dealt Orlando to the Texas Rangers in exchange for another catcher, Donnie Scott. Unfortunately, in the 105 games that he played with the Mariners, Orlando only had a .198 avg, with 2 home runs and 27 runs batted in. Orlando spent 1985 and part of 1986 with the AAA Oklahoma City 89'ers. He did see 46 games of action with Rangers during 1986.

During spring training of 1987, Orlando was traded from the Rangers to the Detroit Tigers for a minor league player. After spending only a month with the Tigers, he was traded again. In early May of 1987, He went to the Dodgers for a rookie reliever. After spending most of the 87 season with the AAA Albuquerque Dukes, he saw time in 7 games with the Dodgers. After being released by the Dodgers after 1987, he signed as a free agent with the Oakland Athletics. For 1988, he split time between the Tacoma Tigers, and 16 games with the club in Oakland. After 1988, he was released again and hooked on with the Twins. In 1989, he again split time between the AAA Portland Beavers, and playing in 19 games for the Twins. 1990 saw Orlando on the move again. After being with the Tidewater Tides, he spent 42 games with the New York Mets. He was put on waivers in late August of 1990, and was claimed by the Montreal Expos. The action with the Expos was limited, seeing time in only 8 games with the Expos. After being a free agent again, Orlando spent the 1991 and 1992 seasons with the Tidewater Tides. In 1993, he split time between the Charlotte Knights of the Indians system and the Iowa Cubs in the AAA leagues. In his final season, he was a player/coach for the Vancouver Canadians of the Angels system in the Pacific Coast League. While his numbers in the big leagues were not hall of fame caliber at .199 with 7 home runs and 45 RBI's, he was good at working with the pitchers.

The Angels hired Orlando to be a coach with the rookie ball Arizona League Angels for the 1995 and 1996 seasons. In 1997, Orlando moved up to the AA Midland Angels, to be the bullpen coach. For 1998, he was the hitting coach for the Pioneer League Butte Copper Kings, and was the bullpen coach for the team in 1999. In 2000, the Anaheim Angels hired new manager Mike Scioscia. Mike Promoted Orlando to be a catcher in the bullpen for the Angels. In 2002, Orlando received a World Series ring as a member of the Angels staff. After the Angels let bullpen coach Bobby Ramos go after the 2002 season, Orlando was promoted to be the bullpen coach for the Angels. 2010 marks the eighth year that Orlando has been the bullpen coach for Mike Scioscia and the Angels staff.
Orlando was also very good at raising his son to follow in his footsteps. In 2003, the Arizona Diamondbacks selected his son, Orlando Mercado Jr. in the 6th round of the amateur draft. While working his way through the D-backs system, he made his way to the AAA Reno Aces last year. He was released by Arizona, but was signed by the Atlanta Braves. He is currently with the AA Mississippi Braves.

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