Baumann: Whit Merrifield looks like the next David Eckstein, but better

From SABR member Michael Baumann at The Ringer on August 11, 2017:

Whit Merrifield’s greatest moment in baseball was supposed to be his last of any consequence.

Even on a College World Series-winning South Carolina team that had only one player drafted in the first three rounds—Jackie Bradley Jr.—Merrifield didn’t stand out. He was a 6-foot corner outfielder with the potential to be a grinder, which is what you say about a player when you can’t find anything nice to say about his tools. Merrifield seemed like a lock to kick around in the minor leagues for a few years, make it to Double-A, stall, and, at some point in his late 20s, decide he’d rather be a coach or a scout, or just go back to Columbia, South Carolina, and never pay for a beer again as long as he lived.

Merrifield lasted until the ninth round of the 2010 draft—269th overall, three picks ahead of a shortstop-conversion lottery ticket out of Stetson named Jacob deGrom—and signed with the Royals for $100,000. He didn’t break an .800 OPS in the minors until his third trip through Double-A. Merrifield played all three outfield positions and all four infield positions, splitting most of his time (a little more than 2,000 innings each) between second base and left field.

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Originally published: August 11, 2017. Last Updated: August 11, 2017.