If today hasn't already been exciting enough for Royals' fans I am pleased to begin the rolling out of the Royal Revival top 50 prospect countdown. Let me preface this undertaking by emphasizing that I am not a scout. I base my opinions and rankings off of a combination scouting reports, statistics, and for some prospects even personal observation.
I enjoy doing a top prospect list, despite how time consuming the process. I also must admit that in some instances I can't help but over rank some players due to personal feelings toward them. Nonetheless I hope you enjoy these rankings as much as I do, and I hope that you take the time to comment. Especially if you have any personal observation on the prospect in discussion.
#50 Whit Merrifield
Acquired: 9th Round of 2010, Rule IV Draft
I start my top prospect countdown with a guy that doesn't make many prospect lists. But when I check the box scores every night during the summer he is a guy whose line I make sure to read, not to mention where on the diamond he played. Last season Merrifield's line was split extremely evenly over three spots: second base, left field, and center field.
Think of Whit Merrifield as a Willie Bloomquist type player, and for those of you that scoff, please provide me with great teams that lacked versatility on their benches. I like the Royals grooming Merrifield to be this kind of player. After all for every Edgar Renteria walk off moment there is a Craig Counsell one.
Speaking of walk off moments, Whit Merrifield knows a thing or two about them. In his final year at the University of South Carolina he notched perhaps the biggest hit of his career when he hit the game winner to give the Gamecocks their first ever College World Series Title.
In his first full professional season as a professional the Royals weren't shy about taking an agressive approach, electing to send him to the pitcher friendly Carolina League. As a twenty-two year old Merrifield hit .262/.337/.369, but given the league average line is just .250/.322/.379 Merrifield's line looks a little stronger than you would initially believe. Of course I will also mention that Willie Bloomquist's career Major League line is .262/.317/.337.
If Merrifield can prove his versatility and become an above average defender in both the outfield and at second base, there could be a Major League future for him. His line in 2011, doesn't scream prospect, but it was his first full season as a pro and it came in one of the roughest hitter's parks in all of minor league baseball.
I am interested to see where Merrifield is assigned to begin 2011, but I expect it will likely be to Wilmington. There I'll be rooting for him to pick things up with a bat, so that one day he may have an opportunity to do something magical once again.