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.
By-the-numbers: Merrifield is batting .263 with a team-high 25 doubles and 20 stolen bases. He is hitting .289 over his last 10 games. Overall he has played in 95 games and has four home runs and 30 RBIs.
All-star effort: Merrifield represented the Carolina League against the California League in the All-Star Game. Both are Single A Advanced leagues. The game was played in Modesto, Calif., at the end of June.
It was a lot of fun. I was glad to be included.
We had a 6 a.m. flight into California. As soon as we got there we had to go to a banquet and go to a dinner, then go back and grab some sleep so we could be in the parade the next morning. We had a luncheon and then we had to get to the field.
Our game was at 7 o'clock that night, which is 10 o'clock East Coast time. So we played that and had another dinner. Then we had a 4 a.m. bus to the airport. It didn't make for a whole lot of sleep but it was definitely a fun time.
I started in left and hit leadoff and went 1-for-4. I actually played the whole game, which was kind of surprising. My family came out. It was a good time.
THE GRIND OF THE SCHEDULE
It's pretty intense. You have bus rides into the morning when the sun's coming up and then have to sleep as much as you can and wake up and play the next day.
Not every stadium is like Myrtle Beach. Sometimes you've got to find energy anywhere you can deep inside you to get up for the game. It's not all glamorous. Stadiums aren't packed out. That's probably the biggest difficulty, is trying to come up with the energy you need to play every day.
We fill places like Winston-Salem and Myrtle Beach, and our home stadium is pretty nice. We get good crowds. Other than that, some games are like playing a scrimmage game.
I'm using to playing a lot of games, but playing every single day is different.
It's been going pretty good. I hit a little skid there after the all-star break. I've been playing better lately and hope to finish strong. I've been trying to keep my composure as best I can. I think I've done a good job of trying to stay level-headed and, being my first full year, being able to handle the grind of playing every day.
WATCHING THE GAMECOCKS WIN IT ALL AGAIN
It was awesome. It was like being a proud parent. It's a different feeling when you watch it from a third-party view as opposed to being there. It was just a great of a feeling, but it was a little bit different feeling. It was cool to watch them do it all over again.
I was in Frederick, Maryland. It was our travel day, the final game. The bus pulled out just as the ninth inning was starting. So I didn't get to see the final out. But I kind of figured going into the ninth with Matt Price coming into pitch that the game was going to be over. I was pretty excited.
Scott Wingo and Adam Matthews are two of my closest friends. I couldn't have been happier for Scott with everything he's been through since he's been at school. To be able to have a breakout year and be the MVP of the World Series and lead that team to another championship is awesome.