Shortstop Kevin Merrell was selected 33rd overall by the Oakland Athletics in the 2017 MLB First Year Player Draft on Monday night. Merrell was chosen in Competitive Balance Round A, a segment between Round 1 and Round 2 where small-market clubs like Oakland receive bonus picks.
This is the highest drafted Bulls player since the Chicago White Sox took SS Jason Dellaero with the 15th pick in the 1997 draft. Interestingly, Merrell isn’t the earliest the A’s have ever drafted a Bulls player — catcher Scott Hemond (also USF’s highest-ever June draft pick) was the 12th overall selection by Oakland in 1986.
Merrell was the ranked as the 51st-best player and eighth best in Florida in the draft according to Baseball America. An AL scout said that their team had a third round grade on Merrell and sees him at either second base or in the outfield.
Merrell’s draft slot value is $2,033,500, meaning he can expect to be offered a contract worth that much. So uh, nice knowing ya Kevin.
Merrell burst onto the scene at USF in 2015 hitting .346/.403/.375, helping lead the Bulls to their first regional appearance since 2002 and was named to the Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team. He added 21 steals as well.
He only got better during his sophomore year hitting .320/.418/.418 and stealing 16 bases while missing 17 games due to injury. He was still named to the AAC All-Conference team as a second baseman.
This past season was his best as a Bull. He flirted with a .400/.500/.600 triple slash line for most of the year, finishing .384/.464/.569 with 11 doubles, three triples, seven home runs and 19 stolen bases. He switched positions this year and showed plenty of range and versatility at shortstop that all major league teams love.
Merrell will finish his career eighth all-time at USF with 56 stolen bases.
Merrell will be sorely missed next year and is nearly impossible to replace. Head coach Mark Kingston has his hands full in his attempt to fill the void left at the top of the lineup.
Thank you for everything Kevin. And score one for the good guys.