Padres prospect Jackson Merrill earns rave reviews from scouts after AFL
The San Diego Padres used to boast MLB’s richest farm system. After years of offseason and trade deadline wheeling and dealing, though, only one crowned jewel remains in the pipeline: budding shortstop Jackson Merrill.
Between MacKenzie Gore, CJ Abrams, Taylor Trammell and Robert Hassell, general manager A.J. Preller has cut bait with several touted prospects in the name of pursuing a championship. It hasn’t paid off yet, but the Padres are knocking on the door of a World Series appearance after they advanced to the NLCS in 2022.
Assuming Preller splurges again this offseason, San Diego will be one of the favorites to represent the NL in the Fall Classic next season.
Per the latest buzz, the Padres have kicked the tires on pursuing one of the star free agent shortstops, including Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson. Signing one of those studs to a three- or four-year deal could bide the organization time until Merrill is ready for the big time.
It’s unclear what the future holds for Merrill, but he impressed MLB scouts with his performance during the Arizona Fall League. In fact, the 19-year-old ranked No. 1 in terms of “prospects scouts liked the most” in the desert.
Padres top prospect Jackson Merrill caught the attention of MLB scouts during the Arizona Fall League.
"“Though his fall numbers weren’t stunning — a .261/.316/.352 line in 22 games — no player generated as many positive reviews from scouts as the No. 27 pick in the 2021 draft. “Most scouts are salivating over him,” one scout said, “and even the low guys think he’s good.”“In their first extended look at Merrill, who was limited to only 45 games at Low A this year due to a wrist injury, evaluators saw a player with a projectable body and a feel to hit. Only 19, Merrill stands at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, carrying himself more like a 22-year-old than a teenager. He’ll fill out more, but not in a way that leads scouts to think he’ll have to move off shortstop. At the plate, the left-handed hitter shows signs of good plate discipline, as well as the ability to spray the ball over the field. The power, they think, will come.”"
That analysis of Merrill’s potential has to be music to the ears of Padres fans. If this organization has any hope of replicating a semblance of success the Dodgers have enjoyed over the last decade, it’ll have to replenish its once-fruitful farm system to complement its ample superstar talent and bloated payroll.
Selected with the No. 27 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, Merrill is a fantastic building block in that regard. A wrist injury limited the Baltimore native to 45 games with Single-A Lake Elsinore this season, so San Diego sent him to the AFL. Like MacKenzie Gore and countless others before him, Merrill didn’t skip a beat despite punching above his weight class in terms of talent and age.
As for Merrill’s supposed power struggles, that will even out with time. With a swing as natural as this, he’ll be cranking 15-20 home runs per season in no time.
MLB Pipeline recently ranked Merrill as the No. 83 overall prospect in baseball. Still just 19 years old and fresh off an eye-opening showcase in the Arizona Fall League, odds are Merrill will ascend up the rankings in the coming months.
Jackson Merrill, folks. Remember the name.