Whit Merrifield will forever be remembered for delivering the extra-inning hit last season that gave USC its first national championship in baseball. Now, Merrifield's attention is focused on his pro baseball future. This year he is an outfielder and second baseman for the Blue Rocks, the Royals' Class A affiliate in Wilmington, Del.
Merrifield this summer is providing GoGamecocks with a diary chronicling his experiences in the minor leagues.
It's been a good week for Whit Merrifield.
He hit his second home run of the season on Tuesday as his team broke a five-game losing streak. He also saw USC teammates Scott Wingo and Adrian Morales among the Gamecocks selected in this week's MLB Draft. Wingo was picked by the L.A. Dodgers in the 11th round and Morales in 49th round by the Kansas City Royals. Playing in the same organization, Merrifield and Morales will likely cross paths in spring training or instructional league.
Merrifield on Thursday learned he was selected to the Carolina League All-Star team. The Carolina League All-Stars will play against the California League All-Star team on June 21 in Modesto, Calif.
He ends his week heading home for a weekend series.
The numbers: Merrifield went through a 1-for-32 slump as the team lost 10 of 11 games. He leads the team in steals (13) and is tied for the team lead in doubles (13). He has also started multiple games in left field, center field and at second base without an error in 54 games.
The schedule: The Blue Rock just finished a seven-game homestand and now head to Winston Salem, N.C., for the weekend followed by a trip to Lynchburg, Va., then back to Delaware before the first half of the season ends.
BEING AN ALL-STAR
It's an honor, especially being my first year. I wanted to go out and prove to the Royals that they made a good choice drafting me. But even though I'm honored, being a high A all-star isn't the ultimate goal.
FORMER TEAMMATES DRAFTED
"I enjoyed watching a bunch of my teammates go. I was excited to see Adrian get picked up by the Royals. I was excited to see pretty much everybody who was hoping to get drafted got drafted. I was really excited to see Wingo go so high. It was a good year for our team when it came to the draft.
Wingo was one of my best friends there. He's such a hard-working kid. He loves the game so much. He had a rough first three years when it came to hitting, but he was always a catalyst on our team. It shows you what kind of player he is. With the year he's had, to get picked up in the 11th round by the Dodgers is awesome for him.
I was hoping the Royals would get somebody I knew. I was excited when I heard Adrian was getting taken. He's a good player, a scrappy player. He'll get a chance to move here and if he plays well, he'll keep going. I'm looking forward to playing with him again.
PLAYING SECOND BASE
I've played second five or six times now. They told me at the beginning of the year that I'd be playing second about once a week. A couple of weeks we've had too many infielders on our roster so I haven't been able to play then. As our roster has changed, I'll probably be playing probably about once a week.
I enjoy it and I enjoy being able to go out there and show my versatility.
BATTLING THROUGH SLUMP, LOSING STREAK
Going into the Myrtle Beach series almost two weeks ago, we were four games up. Now we're six and a half games back. It's been one of those things where we can't win and the team that was chasing us can't lose.
It's unfortunate that we've slipped off here at the end. We hit a rough patch.
I hit a little bit of a skid and everyone else did at the same time. Personally when you start to go good, you want your team to be playing better. Hitting is contagious. When you're going bad, you want the guys around you be going really good so it gets you back on track quicker.
Nobody could buy a hit. It's not like we weren't having good at bats. We just couldn't get anything to go for us.
A TYPICAL DAY - HOME GAME
We usually sleep until about 11 or so, get up and grab a quick bite, then head to the field. We get to the field about 1-ish.
We hang out for 30 minutes or so, check the schedule for the day, see what the lineup is, see what kind of early work we have, stuff like that.
Then early work starts usually about 2:30. We'll go on the field and do whatever we have: defense or hitting or bunting, or whatever it may be. We'll do that, then go in and get changed and go out for batting practice. We take batting practice about 4 to about 5, come in, cool off a little bit. Then go out for an hour and take infield. Come in, cool off and change into our game jerseys. Go out there at 6:40 and get ready for a 7 o'clock game.
After the game we eat at the field, go home and watch SportsCenter for about 30 minutes and go to sleep. We don't get in bed until around 1-ish.
GOING HOME TO PLAY WINSTON SALEM
It's definitely cool to go home and sleep in my own bed and play in front of my home crowd, especially with my family there. It's a cool feeling because I grew up kind of watching that team. It was the closest professional team. To get to play against them now is pretty cool.