After selecting high school outfielder Austin Beck with their first overall pick, the Oakland Athletics chose University of South Florida infielder Kevin Merrell with pick #33. Merrell hit .384 with an 1033 OPS for the Bulls this season.
Merrell is a versatile player who has seen most of his time at shortstop and second base, but he can also play all three outfield positions. He told BayNews9 that his hero is former Rays’ and A’s utilityman Ben Zobrist.
Merrell brings a speed element to the A’s organization. Rated by several scouts as the fastest player in the draft, Merrell stole 56 bases in 67 opportunities during his three-year career at USF. He stole six bases in seven attempts in just 14 games in the Cape Cod League last summer. Merrell performed well in the famous wood bat league, posting a .305/.359/.322 line.
Merrell hit seven homeruns this season, but it is his speed, bat control and plate patience that define him as a hitter. He profiles as a top one or two hitter who can fill multiple roles with the glove.
More on Merrell to come.
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