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ABCA Minority Member Spotlight: Roberto Mercado, Aberdeen IronBirds

The American Baseball Coaches Association strives to help diversify the baseball community and help bring opportunities in the game to all areas. The ABCA Minority Spotlight series looks to capture the experiences, coaching style, and impact that baseball has had on different ABCA member coaches. A new Minority Spotlight feature is released on the ABCA Podcast on the third Monday of the month and we will transcribe a small portion of the interview, which you can find below.

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The ABCA Podcast releases a new episode weekly featuring coaches from all levels of the sport. Discussions run the gamut of baseball coaching topics, from pitching, to hitting, to the mental game, practice planning, recruiting and more. The podcast is hosted by Ryan Brownlee, longtime coach and current Assistant Executive Director of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA).

Roberto Mercado is currently in his second season as the manager for the Aberdeen IronBirds (High-A), an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles organization. Before being hired by the Orioles, Mercado served as the Dean of Students, assistant baseball coach, and head baseball coach for New Britain High School in Connecticut. Mercado was also an assistant coach for the Yarmouth Dennis Red Sox in the Cape Cod league and was also the head coach for the Goodwill Series in Australia and New Zealand in 2017 and 2018.
Ryan Brownlee: Are you happy with your decision to leave high school and go to pro ball?

Roberto Mercado: I am, but you know that first year it was kind of mixed emotions. I was really happy where I was at. I had a good job and was able to coach high school and then obviously get to go to the Cape every summer.

RB: What really was the tipping point for you when you said, “Hey, I am going to really do this”?

RM: The biggest thing was getting support from my fiancé at the time and making sure that she was comfortable with it. I think that is the big piece everybody kind of forgets about, is having that support system and that lady that is behind you and going to support you 100 percent. She has been awesome and super supportive. 

RB: Did you make any adjustments from last to this year? 

RM: Yes for sure, I would say more of the scheduling aspect. The day to day, you know we are playing 130 games, playing six days a week and kind of monitoring players work load. I think that was the biggest difference from high school and the Cape. 

RB: Did coaching high school as long as you did help you communicate with those guys fresh out of high school?

RM: It did, I think the biggest key is the timing aspect. In high school you have such a short amount of time, and there is so much information you want to give to your players. Here we focus on one thing and master that first then move on to the next thing.

RB: How do you handle managing prospects? 

RM: I think everybody is being treated the same. I think we give everybody the opportunity to get their work in, and everybody has their individual plan of what they are going to focus on. We do not want anyone to ever feel like they are less important than anyone else. We want all our players to feel like they are the most important player on the team. 

RB: Do you feel any of your players think they are not as good as another player? 

RM: I will be honest with you, We have so much talent in this organization I think it pushes everyone to be the best player they can be. When they have their opportunity, guys are getting after it. At the end of the day it's about that work day too. We preach all the time we are not just preparing you for seven o’clock tonight, we are preparing you for Camden Yards one day. 

RB: Do you have a fail forward moment?

RM: I would say in 2017 I went on an interview for a professional team, this was the first time I ever did. I did the interview and never got a call back or anything like that. I was kind of like maybe this is not for me but I told myself let me keep growing and keep continuing. 
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