Using the 27th overall pick, the Padres selected Jackson Merrill, a high school shortstop from Maryland.
This is new territory for A.J. Preller, who has drafted in the top 10 every year of his tenure.
Along with that, he typically goes with high school talent in the first round, with Cal Quantrill and Eric Lauer being the last college players taken. This year followed the recent trend of picking the best high school player available.
Merrill is 18 years old and comes in at 6’3”, 195 lbs.
The left-handed hitter is the first high schooler from Maryland to be drafted in the first round in the 21st century. He is the #79 ranked draft prospect according to MLB Pipeline. However, there isn’t a true consensus among the league. Baseball America puts him at #102, ESPN at #84. Jonathan Mayo described Merrill as a late riser in the draft, explaining the uncertainty in his draft position.
Part of his late rise came when he improved power and speed tools that really shot up right before the draft. In the latest update MLB Pipeline, his run is 50 and power is 45, but those are the tools that rose last second.
As the cold weather #dudes continue to pop, SS/3B Jackson Merrill out of Severna Park HS (MD) is a name that seems as hot as any right now. Physical 6’2” frame with a budding hit tool and all fields power that is showing in game⬇️ @UKBaseball commit. #MLBDraft
— Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty) June 3, 2021
While he is drafted as a shortstop, there are questions if that is position long-term. Some view him moving over to either second or third as his career progresses. A reminder to all, Preller is known for drafting the best available player. Acquiring a playing that might on the left side of the infield does not reflect his opinion on Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, CJ Abrams, or anyone else in the Padres organization.