Jackson Merrill, SS
The Friars could use their top infield prospect, Jackson Merrill, as a utility player next season. Shortstop is his primary position, but Merrill did play five games in the outfield with San Antonio last season. Also, he saw playing time at first base and second base. The reason is that Merrill is a great athlete and, to secure an opportunity in the majors, he better be open to play anywhere on the field.
Merrill will not be 21 until next April as he was the Padres first-round pick (27th overall) in the 2021 MLB Amateur Draft. In three minor league seasons, the young shortstop has a .295 lifetime batting average with 76 extra-base hits in 881 plate appearances. Merrill could provide a much-needed boost to the Padres listless offense.
He has shown there is nothing left to prove in the minors, but Merrill has never faced MLB pitching. A good spring training performance could force the Friars front office to put Merrill on the Opening Day roster. The move would save payroll to acquire a veteran starting pitcher.