The 27-year-old Merrifield's positional versatility is a perfect fit for a Royals squad that's suffered multiple key injuries, and the rookie is taking full advantage of the opportunity. Since having his contract selected from Triple-A Omaha on May 18, Merrifield has already played two games at third base in Mike Moustakas' stead after his season-ending injury, and three games in left field while Alex Gordon (wrist) continues to heal. Moreover, he's logged six starts at second base in place of the struggling Omar Infante, considerably outpacing the veteran's middling production in the process.
Merrifield notably notched at least one start at every position except pitcher and catcher this season at the minor league level, meaning that there should be no shortage of playing time with the big league club if he manages to keep up his stellar start. Over his first 50 major league at-bats, the talented rookie has slashed .360/.360/.480 with six doubles, four RBI, and a pair of stolen bases. He's also managed seven multi-hit games during that span, including a stretch of five straight that began with just his third major league start.
He's presently working on a nine-game hitting streak, and although his current 22 percent strikeout rate suggests some growing pains are ahead, Merrifield has notably proven to be an above-average contact hitter over his six-plus minor league campaigns. He managed a strikeout rate as low as 11.1 percent over 594 plate appearances in 2015 with Omaha, and posted wOBA figures of .377, .372, and .354 in three of his last four minor league stints.
Merrifield doesn't offer much in the power department, with eight homers at the High-A level in 2012 representing a career high. However, he's capable of filling out the box score otherwise, with four minor league campaigns with 20-plus doubles, and one with 30. He brings plenty of speed to the table as well, legging out between three and five triples in six different minor league stops, while also swiping 32 bags as recently as 2015 at Triple-A Omaha.
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