Kansas City Royals: Whit Merrifield has defied the odds

Whit Merrifield #15 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning two-run double (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Whit Merrifield #15 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning two-run double (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals have always had trouble finding consistency at second base, but it appears they finally found their man in Whit Merrifield. The former South Carolina Gamecock previously spent seven years in the minor leagues.

In 2010, the Kansas City Royals drafted Whit Merrifield in the ninth round of the MLB Draft. At the time, no one probably thought anything of Merrifield joining the Royals. Anything past a third rounder typically doesn’t get a lot of buzz and that was the case here.

Merrifield shone bright during his time at South Carolina and was responsible for the Gamecocks’ walk-off win in the College World Series during his senior season. Nobody thought that Whit Merrifield would become anything more than a name in the minor leagues, but he’s really defied the odds there.

In 2016, Whit Merrifield got his first ever Major League call-up and immediately became a fan favorite. He had a nice rookie campaign with the Royals that season, slashing .283/.323/.392 with two home runs and 29 RBI in 311 at bats.

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Merrifield started off hot in 2016, but began to slump so badly that he eventually got sent back to Triple-A Omaha. He rejoined the Royals for September call-ups and many thought that the former Gamecock would never again be playing games in the minor leagues.

During spring training, a lot of debate arose over who would be manning second base for the Kansas City Royals. Would it be Whit Merrifield, Christian Colon, or underdog candidate Raul Mondesi Jr.?

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Well, long story short, Mondesi won the job, to the shock of nearly everyone. Colon was placed on the main roster and Merrifield, despite a nice 2016 season and a lot of versatility to add to the lineup, was optioned to the minors.

Merrifield didn’t spend long in Omaha and had rejoined the Royals within two weeks of the regular season. Whit eventually slid in nicely as the Royals’ leadoff hitter and has continued to fill that role over the past two months.

So far, Merrifield is slashing an impressive .293/.337/.489 with ten home runs and 41 RBI in 307 at bats. He’s proven to be that consistent guy at second base that the Royals have desperately been searching for and that is such a relief, considering all of the talent that the organization could lose this offseason.

When looking at Merrifield’s MLB career, it’s impressive all that he’s accomplished considering how little faith people had in him to become anything. He spent six years in the minors and was left unprotected by the Royals. Another team could have snatched him up at any moment and reaped the benefits of Whit Merrifield’s skills, but the Royals lucked out and got to experience them himself.

On Sunday, Merrifield really showed fans what he’s capable of. He went two for three against the White Sox with both of those hits going into the stands for one-run homers and had several key defensive plays as well.

Getting demoted to start the season obviously struck a nerve with Whit Merrifield because the guy has been wheeling and dealing ever since. It couldn’t come at a better time either. The Royals will need him to stay hot if they want to make a run at the division down the stretch.