July 14, 2024

San Diego Padres’ standout prospect Jackson Merrill is making waves in the baseball world with his bid to create history.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, shortstop Jackson Merrill, ranked as the Padres’ second-best prospect, has garnered significant attention in the Cactus League this spring. Scouts have been particularly impressed by his performance, believing that he has the potential to transition into the role of the Padres’ everyday center fielder.

If Merrill were to secure a spot in center field on Opening Day, he would join a select group of players who have achieved this feat before turning 21. Specifically, he would become just the third player in the last 50 years to accomplish this, following in the footsteps of baseball legends Ken Griffey Jr. and Andruw Jones.

It’s truly remarkable considering that Merrill has never played at Triple-A or in center field at any level, not even during his Little League days.

Being mentioned alongside legends like Griffey Jr. and Jones in relation to center field is an extraordinary achievement, highlighting the natural talent of the 20-year-old.

While it’s not yet certain that he will start with the major league club on Opening Day, the recent trades of Juan Soto and Trent Grisham have left the Padres with only two outfielders on the 40-man roster, creating an opportunity for Merrill to make the switch and earn a spot.

Ranked as the No. 12 prospect in baseball for the 2024 season, Merrill showcased his skills by batting .277 in the minor leagues last season, while also recording 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases.

According to his MLB.com prospect profile, Jackson Merrill employs a left-handed batting stance and utilizes an all-fields approach to consistently find success at the plate. He demonstrates excellent plate discipline for his age and experience level, evident in his low 8.1 percent swinging-strike rate, which ranked among the top 10 among qualified full-season Minor Leaguers aged 20 or younger in 2023. Merrill has shown improvement in his ability to elevate the ball, reducing his ground-ball rate from 59.6 percent to 42.5 percent last season. This development suggests the potential for above-average power as he progresses into his mid-20s.

The Padres are set to kick off their season on March 20 with a two-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Korea Series.

San Diego Padres' Prospect Could Be Ready to Join Elite Baseball History on Opening Day

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