Whisenhunt signs for $1.8 million; Merrifield, Walker traded

Published 11:11 am Wednesday, August 10, 2022

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Carson Whisenhunt, a 21-year-old lefthanded pitcher from Mocksville, received a substantial signing bonus after getting picked in the second round by the San Francisco Giants.

The bonus: $1,868,720, which was more than $800,000 over the slot value ($1,054,700) of where he was picked (66th overall).

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Whit Merrifield became the face of the franchise in Kansas City, but his seven-year run with the Royals ended right before the clock for the Aug. 2 trade deadline expired as he was dealt to Toronto. He was traded for second baseman/outfielder Samad Taylor and righthanded pitcher Max Castillo.

There was speculation about Merrifield being traded at the 2019 deadline, at the 2019 winter meetings, at the 2020 deadline and during the 2021 season. KC decided to keep their versatile star each time. But with the Royals headed toward a sixth straight losing season, they decided to make a deal.

Merrifield went from a 41-63 last-place team to a playoff contender. The Blue Jays were 57-45 and in second place in the American League East when they grabbed Merrifield.

“We just looked to capitalize on a player that had value in this game,” KC General Manager J.J. Picollo said.

Merrifield, 33, will go down as a Royals all-timer. He made two All-Star teams (2019, 2021). Three times he led the majors in steals (2017, 2018, 2021). Twice he led the majors in hits (2018, 2019). He once led the majors in triples (2019). He put together the longest hitting streak in KC history (31 games spanning the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019). He played in 553 consecutive games from June 24, 2018-July 11, 2022, which was the longest streak in franchise history and the longest in Major League Baseball since 2007.

Merrifield went 5 for 13 in his first three games for Toronto. In his debut on Aug. 4, he played center field, batted eighth and went 2-5 with a run and an RBI as Toronto won 9-3 in the first game of a three-game series at Minnesota. The next day he led off, played center field and second base and went 2-5 with a run in a 6-5, 10-inning loss. And in a 7-3 loss on Saturday, he played center field, batted eighth and went 1-3.

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These are unprecedented times for Davie High baseball products. Another pro from Davie, Jeremy Walker, was in the news last week for getting traded from the Giants organization to Tampa Bay. The 6-5 righthander was exchanged for catcher/infielder Ford Proctor.

Walker, 27, was a fifth-round pick by the Braves in 2016. He got a cup of coffee in the majors in 2019, working 9.1 relief innings for Atlanta. But he did not pitch at all in 2020 and 2021 due to a canceled minor league season and a shoulder injury. He returned this year in the Giants’ farm system. He pitched 37.1 innings, all but two at the Triple-A level, and had a 6.99 ERA as he works himself back into form. He has a respectable 3.91 ERA in 439.2 minor league innings.

After the trade, Walker was added to the Triple-A Durham Bulls roster.