While holding the first pick in the MLB Draft is a somewhat “dubious honor,” to quote Crash Davis from “Bull Durham,” it does provide a team — the Twins this year — the opportunity to help turn around their organization’s fortunes.
So far this spring, three names have been linked with the Twins’ top pick in the 2017 MLB Draft: Hunter Greene, Kyle Wright, and Brendan McKay. The first two would be solid choices; the third would not. More on that in a bit.
Merchant hit .265 and stole 33 bases in 50 games that first season. The next year, while playing for the Pirates’ Class A affiliate in Augusta, Ga., he separated his throwing shoulder while diving for a ball. His season ended after 60 games.
The Pirates traded Merchant the next season, including him in a five-player deal that ironically landed him in the Mariners organization. While playing for Class AA Jacksonville in 1991, Merchant broke his right ankle.
“I knew that night I was in trouble,” he said. “I never got my speed back again.”
Merchant went on to also play in the Reds, White Sox and Royals organizations. His career also included two stints with independent league teams and time in the Mexican League. His best year came in 1993 while playing for the Reds’ AA affiliate in Chattanooga, Tenn. There, he hit .301 with 17 home runs in 109 games, earning him his first promotion to Triple-A.