Jackson Merrill’s hot start with Padres has him on track to join elite company

The Padres rookie has been on fire to start the 2024 season.
San Diego Padres outfielder Jackson Merrill
San Diego Padres outfielder Jackson Merrill / Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/GettyImages

Jackson Merrill was one of the most interesting additions to the San Diego Padres Opening Day roster last month. Having never set foot on a major league field and with no experience in the outfield, Merrill's presence on the Padres roster brought a lot of questions to the table. Not necessarily about his skill set, but more so about his readiness. Those concerns have since been tossed out the window.

Merrill is off to red-hot start. The Padres rookie is hitting .333/.405/.439. Merrill logged his first major league triple during the Padres 1-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday and has four extra-base hits and eight RBI on the young season.

Merrill was matched up against the much-ballyhooed Brewers' rookie Jackson Chourio, who, like the Padres outfielder, was a bit of a surprise addition to Milwaukee's Opening Day roster. But while Chourio has been receiving a lot of national love from the media as one of the top young players in the game, Merrill's name is strangely absent from those conversations.

Perhaps it's time to, as they say, put some respect on his name.

Jackson Merrill’s hot start has him on track to join the Rookie of the Year conversation

Chourio and Chicago Cubs infielder Michael Busch have been dominating the early-season Rookie of the Year conversation. But it's time for Merrill's name to be added to the list. Chourio, quite frankly, doesn't even have a seat at the table right now.

The Brewers rookie is hitting just .230/.273/.393. Chourio has lightning fast speed, plays Gold Glove-caliber defense, and is part of a team that's leading the NL Central at the moment. But his stat line is nowhere close to Merrill's.

Merrill ranks among the top five of NL rookies in almost every major category. In fact, Merrill leads all NL rookies in hits (22). The only thing Chourio is leading all rookies in is swings and misses. Chourio is tops among all major league rookies in strikeouts (20).

Busch is the leader in the clubhouse at the moment, but Merrill is closing in on the former Los Angeles Dodgers prospect. While there's a lot of season left to be played, and rookies notoriously experience a letdown somewhere along the way, Merrill has certainly played well enough during the first few weeks of the 2024 season to have his hat thrown in the ring.

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