#MLBPlayers411 | Whit Merrifield
It took seven years to finally get the call. Seven seasons of bus road trips, sparse crowds in small towns and baseball ending around Labor Day weekend.
But since getting the call, Whit Merrifield has seized his opportunity.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound, 28-year old and a ninth-round draft pick in 2010 has made himself indispensable to the Royals.
“He's just a very solid all-around player,” manager Ned Yost told ESPN.com. “Runs the bases well. Will give you a great at-bat. Has a little power and does a solid job defensively.”
In 2017, he ranks sixth among major-league second basemen in WAR according to FanGraphs, and is seventh in slugging among second basemen.
But Merrifield's journey to the big leagues was anything but short.
He refined his skills through countless minor league at-bats and fielding reps, playing in 725 games with Triple-A Omaha, Double-A Northwest Arkansas, Single-A Wilmington and Single-A Burlington. Although Merrifield was never considered a top Royals prospect nor was he often in the spotlight, but little by little he developed a reputation as being an essential part of the Royals' farm system.
In 2015, Merrifield played at every position except for the pitching battery for Triple-A Omaha. His versatility stood out to Yost.
“There's not a position on the infield or the outfield that I would be afraid to play (Whit) at,” Yost told the Kansas City Star earlier this season. “We played him at every position at spring training from left, to right, to second and even some third base here in the big leagues.”
Merrifield finally made his major-league debut in May 2016.
“The most exciting thing for me, being here now, is finally getting back to playing games that matter, playing games where the goal of the game is to win,” Merrifield told The Star after being called-up. “You can try all you want in the minor leagues; it's just not the environment. It's so exciting to get back to not caring about anything but winning.”
In 81 games last year, Merrifield batted .283, while scoring 44 runs with 22 doubles, two home runs and 29 RBIs.
He didn't make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training this season, but was again called up in mid-April to stay.
Primarily hitting leadoff, Merrifield has provided speed at the top of the lineup. He has stolen 26 bases, which ranks fifth in the American League. His stolen-base success rate – 92.9 percent – ranks third in the majors among players who have logged 10 or more steals.
While primarily playing second base for the Royals, Merrifield has also appeared at first base, second base, third base, and left and right field this season. In 2017, Merrifield is batting .283 with 62 runs scored, 17 home runs and 62 RBIs.
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