Whit Merrifield knocking on Major League door

Published 8:43 am Thursday, April 9, 2015

The journey from Triple-A to the major leagues sometimes doesn’t unfold on a straight line. There are detours. There are tough obstacles. There is the agonizing numbers game. There are bad breaks.

Whit Merrifield is knocking on the door of the Kansas City Royals. He was close – very close – to making the Royals’ 25-man roster for the 2015 season that began this week. Ultimately, even after hitting a robust .370 during Spring Training for the big club, he was sent to Triple-A Omaha. You have to like his chances of eventually seeing the door open.

Merrifield was not just good for Omaha in 2014. He was great.

He is the organization’s reigning minor-league hitter of the year. He hit .340 during a 76-game stint with Omaha, his fifth season in the Royals organization. The 26-year-old from Advance and 2007 Davie High grad was a ninth-round pick out of South Carolina in 2010.

His stock skyrocketed last year and he kept drawing rave reviews while on the 40-man roster during Spring Training. Kansas City manager Ned Yost gave Merrifield serious consideration for the 25-man roster.

“He’s been impressive with his versatility,” Yost told The Kansas City Star. “He can play anywhere. His best infield position is second base. His best outfield position is probably left field. He can actually play a little center field, in a bind. He can play first, he can play second, he can play third. He’s a super utility guy.”

Going into the final days of Spring Training, Yost had not yet made his decision. Merrifield was on the short list of guys bidding for the final spot. The hard news that Merrifield was an odd man out was announced Sunday, the day before the season opener.

“I don’t know where I’m leaning right now,” Yost said last week. “(Merrifield) has really played well.”