CHICAGO — Going into the 2023 Major League Baseball season, a popular question on the mind of Chicago Cubs fans was when prized slugging prospect Matt Mervis would make the leap to the major league roster.

His play for the Iowa Cubs in Triple A is starting to make the argument against keeping him down harder and harder to maintain, especially given the pedestrian numbers being put up at first base on the North Side of Chicago so far this year.

In 18 games so far for Iowa, Mervis has a slash line of .288/.410/.576 with 5 home runs, 4 doubles and 21 RBIs.

His counterparts at the big league level — Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini — have fared much more poorly at the plate in what management viewed as a platoon situation heading into the season, featuring Mancini taking on left-handed pitchers, while Hosmer faced righties.

Hosmer is currently sporting a slashline of .250/.316/.365 with 1 home run and 11 RBIs across 17 games, while Mancini has struggled even more, slashing .232/.250/.333 with 2 home runs and 12 RBIs across 17 games. The two first basemen have combined to put up -0.6 WAR so far this season.

Mervis arrived in the Cubs’ minor league system after the pandemic-shortened MLB Amateur Draft in 2020, signing with Chicago as an undrafted free agent for the maximum possible value at the time ($20,000).

After gaining a foothold in the minors in 2021, Mervis exploded onto the scene as a power-hitting lefty in the Cubs organization in 2022, leading Minor League Baseball in extra-base hits (78), total bases (310) and RBIs (119), while ranking second in MiLB in doubles (40), third in home runs (36), and fifth in slugging (.605).

Several road blocks still exist that will hold Mervis back, for now though.

The former Blue Devil is not a part of the 40-man roster, which makes a call-up situation trickier to manage. In order to be called up to the big leagues, a player must first be on their parent club’s 40-man roster before being promoted to the 26-man roster, which is the group of players who suit up on game day.

It’s also only April.

After General Manager Jed Hoyer inked Hosmer and Mancini to deals over the offseason in a series of moves to retool the roster, it wouldn’t make sense to jeopardize the comradery built by the nucleus of this team by calling up a hot prospect 21 games into the season.

“We’ve played three weeks of baseball, so you have to be patient and be thankful that some of our guys have gotten off to hot starts,” Hoyer said before last Thursday’s 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. ““That allows some other guys to struggle. When those guys struggle, the other guys will pick them up, but I don’t think there’s like a specific number.”

Chicago is currently 12-9 on the season, good for third in the National League Central, three games behind the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates (16-7) and 2.5 games back of the second-place Milwaukee Brewers (15-7).

Up next, the Cubs have an off day Monday before the San Diego Padres come to Wrigley Field for a three-game series starting Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. CDT.