Padres’ Jackson Merrill keeps earning high praise

Credit: Padres

Credit: Storm

In the most recent San Diego Padres EVT Podcast, Keith Law gave a glowing report of Jackson Merrill.

Merrill was selected by the Padres in the first round (27th overall) in the 2021 MLB Draft. A month before the draft, Merrill was not well-regarded enough by scouts to warrant a first-round pick. Most believed he lacked power and would go to Kentucky to play baseball at the Division 1 level.

That all changed a few weeks before the draft, as Merrill looked better and better in predraft workouts.

At Camden Yards, during a showcase game before the draft, the teenager hit a home run out of the major league stadium. Eyebrows were raised in the scouting community as the left-handed hitter was now producing power and showing that he is capable of hitting the long ball. He was an intriguing pick.

Preller and the Padres rolled the dice, and the rest is history.

In Keith Law’s most recent interview with EVT, the shortstop earned high praise. Law stated he would not be surprised if Merrill made the major league roster at some point in the 2023 season. That was pretty amazing to hear, honestly, as Merril is so young. The baseball guru did admit the addition would be a surprise, but “I wouldn’t be shocked if he debuted at the end of the season,” Law said.

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The infield prospect is easily the Padres’ No. 1 prospect and one of the best young players in the game of baseball. Merrill is generating a lot of buzz in recent months as he enjoyed an excellent first season of professional baseball playing for the Lake Elsinore Storm in the California League.

Merrill began the 2022 campaign strongly, producing a .970 OPS in April before injuring his wrist. The former first-round pick sat for several weeks returning in the beginning of the summer as Merrill began to play in Peoria. He hit .433 in 10 games producing a 1.152 OPS with the organization’s AZL club before returning to Lake Elsinore in late July.

Credit: Fastball Photo

To close out the season, the 19-year-old was productive, putting up a .882 OPs in August and a 1.040 OPS in September as the Storm prepared for the playoffs.

Lake Elsinore was dominant in the 2022 playoffs and went on to win their first California League title since 2011, as they swept the Fresno Grizzlies in four games in the final. Merrill went 11-for-17 in the Storm’s final four games, solidifying himself as one of the best hitters in the league. He carried Lake Elsinore to the championship and showed great maturity in doing so. “He is pretty advanced,” Keith Law stated about the young infielder.

In the first spring training game on Friday, Merrill came in to replace Xander Bogaerts, and he went 3-for-3 in the game. Merrill has never played higher than the Single-A level thus far in his career. He will need to see more advanced pitching, but the door is certainly opening for this young shortstop.

“He is a top-25 prospect in baseball,” Keith Law stated confidently in the latest EVT podcast. The biggest issue for Merrill right now is his propensity to hit the ball on the ground. If he can get a little more loft in his swing while staying consistent with his contact percentage, the sky is the limit.

Take a look at the velocity he is creating off the bat in game action last year with the Storm. Players who hit the ball in excess of 110 mph are rare. With more loft, the home run totals will climb.

The Padres have a special talent in Jackson Merrill. He will be 20 in April and is producing well. There may not be an opening for him on the roster currently, but if he continues to progress as he has thus far, the Padres will make room for his bat. Defensively, Merrill can play all over the infield and may even be able to play centerfield. Though, that has not come to fruition yet. The Padres are content in keeping him at shortstop for now,

Keep an eye on Jackson Merrill as he continues to gain momentum in his career. The Padres may have another special talent on their hands.

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