Merrifield knocking on MLB door

Published 9:53 am Thursday, March 31, 2016

Whit Merrifield banged on the major-league door in 2015. He could very well barge through the door in 2016.

The 27-year-old utility man from Advance has spent six years in the Kansas City Royals’ farm system. In 2014, when he split time between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, he hit .317 with eight home runs and 41 doubles. He returned to Omaha in 2015, hitting .265 in 135 games and stealing 32 bases in 39 attempts.

During the offseason, Merrifield packed on 20 pounds to his 6-1 frame, entering camp at 195 pounds. He has been on fire during Spring Training, hitting .353 (12 for 34) with one homer. No one is more versatile. He can play anywhere in the outfield and anywhere in the infield. He saw time at all seven positions in 2015, including 57 games at second base, 35 games in left field, 15 at third base and 14 at first base.

If the Royals decide to keep five outfielders or an extra infielder, Merrifield could reach the promised land, the place minor leaguers dream about every night.

“I know I can play,” Merrifield told The Kansas City Star. “I think I can play in the big leagues. I was drafted as an outfielder, but I think they knew I could do multiple things.”

Kansas City manager Ned Yost said Merrifield could be the 25th man on the roster.

“We were really impressed with him last year, too,” Yost told the Kansas City Star. “You just kind of appreciate more his ability to be a super-utility guy. He can play all outfield positions, very solidly. (He can play) all infield positions. He’s a baseball player, man. He can play baseball.”