by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
With multiple injuries (including Alex Gordon hitting the DL and Mike Moustakas being banged up) Whit Merrifield was recently summoned to the Majors. Clearly the team is prepared to use him all across the diamond, as he’s already played 2B, 3B and LF (he’s played everywhere in the minors, aside from catching) and he’s gotten off to a decent enough start (4-13).
The question is, who exactly is he?
At 27-years old he’s hardly a prospect (drafted in the ninth round in 2010), though the youngster has been producing at Triple-A for the past few seasons:
- 2014 (345 PA) – .340, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 57 R, 11 SB
- 2015 (594 PA) – .265, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 83 R, 32 SB
- 2016 (163 PA) – .278, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 25 R, 16 SB
He’s obviously never been a big power hitter, though he did have 57 doubles and 8 triples at the level entering the season and he wouldn’t be the first player to see a spike at this point in his career. According to Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star (click here for the article) Merrifield “reported to spring training at 195 pounds, 20 pounds heavier than he finished last season. He parlayed the extra bulk into a terrific spring training, impressing club officials with his bat and defensive versatility.” That certainly could help explain the bump in home runs.
He’s also shown an improved efficiency on the base paths this season, which is something that easily could’ve regressed due to the extra bulk. After going 43-for-59 over his first two tries at the level, he’s been caught stealing just once in ’16.
Couple those things with a solid approach at the plate (16.0% strikeout rate in ’16) and there’s suddenly a bit of intrigue. There is also going to be opportunities for playing time, given the injuries and struggles filling the lineup (including Omar Infante & Kendrys Morales).
If he’s going well the Royals are going to find a spot for him. He was slotted into the #2 spot in the order yesterday, seeing 30 pitches in his 5 AB. Seems like a perfect fit for a team in need, doesn’t it?
It’s possible that he continues to play and ultimately emerges as a viable sleeper source of speed in all formats. In deeper leagues, don’t be afraid to make the move now just in case.
- 10 Team League – Too shallow
- 12 Team League – Worth monitoring
- 14+ Team League – Worth adding given potential versatility
- AL-Only League – Must add
- Keeper/Dynasty – All based on league size
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Kansas City Star
Make sure to check out all of our Team Top 10 Prospect Lists: