Is another Padres top prospect a better option than Jackson Merrill in the outfield?

How many prospects will be on the Padres Opening Day roster?

San Diego Padres outfielder Jacob Marsee
San Diego Padres outfielder Jacob Marsee / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

There's more than just one San Diego Padres prospect with an outside chance to make a run at the Opening Day roster. While most of the focus from the Friar faithful and the San Diego media has been centered around top infield prospect Jackson Merrill, there's another young player who might be a better option.

Jakob Marsee has seen the field this spring as well, and has looked good doing it. Just like Merrill, Marsee is not on the Padres 40-man roster, but received a non-roster invite to spring training. In seven games with the Friars this spring, Marsee is hitting .294/.455/.412 with a pair of doubles and the same number of walks (5) as strikeouts.

Merrill has played well this spring, but is learning a new position. After spending almost his entire professional career at shortstop, the Padres are attempting to convert Merrill into an outfielder. Marsee, however, has been roaming the outfield grass since his time at Central Michigan, and could be much more prepared for taking on the rigors of the upcoming major league season to start the year.

Is Padres prospect, Jakob Marsee, a better option than Jackson Merrill in the outfield?

Merrill has the first-round pedigree, and is considered one of the Top 100 prospects in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. Merrill made it to Double-A last season, and spent all but five games on the infield dirt.

The Padres, who see Ha-Seong Kim as the starting shortstop for at least the 2024 season, have pushed Merrill to the outfield this spring in an effort to get his bat into the lineup. The 20-year-old hit .277/.326/.444 in the minors last season, so it's easy to see why the Padres would like to see him break camp with the big league squad.

But Marsee is no slouch. The 22-year-old showed tremendous plate discipline a year ago in the minor leagues with a walk rate of 17.3% and a strikeout rate below 20%. Marsee, who's known as more of contact-over-power hitter, still posted an .840 OPS in 2023.

But perhaps more important than his hitting, Marsee logged over 100 games in center field last season between High-A and Double-A. His familiarity with the position, in addition to his bat, may give him the edge over Merrill when the Padres coaching staff are making final cuts this spring. There's also the reality that San Diego may still add another outfielder through free agency.

At the moment, Marsee has a leg up on Merrill in terms of experience in the outfield and Cactus League performance. There is the possibility that neither will be part of the Padres Opening Day roster, but the likelihood of that is becoming less and less by the day based on how well both San Diego prospects have played this spring.

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