Top Padres prospect Jackson Merrill invited to Fall Stars game
By Mike Luciano
The San Diego Padres have placed the success of their farm system in the next few years squarely in the hands of elite shortstop Jackson Merrill. The one-fruitful developmental pipeline has been all but cleared out due to A.J. Preller and his trading.
Top youngsters like Taylor Trammell, Robert Hassell, CJ Abrams, and MacKenzie Gore have been shipped off to greener pastures in deals that have brought names like Juan Soto to San Diego. According to MLB Pipeline, Merrill (No. 83 overall) and rookie-ball right-hander Dylan Lesko (98) are the only top-100 prospects San Diego has.
Merrill, who was picked No. 27 overall in the 2021 MLB Draft, has already received a great deal of acclaim for his sweet left-handed power stroke and cannon arm at shortstop. Following in the tradition of so many others who have come before him for San Diego, Merrill played well in the Arizona Fall League.
Merrill has been invited to the AFL’s Fall Stars exhibition after piling up a solid .292 average with one dinger to his name. He’s far away from the majors right now, but he could glide through the minor leagues without too much trouble if he sustains this production.
The San Diego Padres have a future star in Jackson Merrill.
Merrill hit .325 with five home runs in just under 200 at-bats with the Class-A Lake Elsinore Storm. Expect him to start next season with the Double-A San Antonio Missions, where he can some extended at-bats against future big-leaguers following a year spent in the lower levels.
Most of the top prospects San Diego has in their farm system are pitchers, so there needs to be another game-changer in the Soto/Josh Bell package that comes along for Preller to even consider dumping Merrill. Once he adds more muscle to his 6-3 frame, the sky is the limit.
Even with the team’s success as it is currently constructed, San Diego has historically not been the best in developing elite power hitters in their minor league system. Merrill’s hype remains warranted because of their success had with another 6-3 shortstop slugger in Fernando Tatis Jr.
While it might be tough for Merrill to breeze to the major leagues as a pure shortstop or third baseman due to Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. clogging things up over there, his bat is such a tantalizing tool that San Diego will come up with all sorts of shenanigans to get that stick in the lineup.