Whit Merrifield is lighting up Class AAA pitching

This time of year just seems to suit Class AAA Omaha’s Whit Merrifield.

Last Saturday was the four-year anniversary of Merrifield’s game- and series-winning hit for South Carolina in the College World Series in Omaha.

Merrifield was drafted by the Royals in the ninth round in 2010 and he’s worked his way up the system to the Storm Chasers. He joined Omaha earlier this month and has been tearing it up.

On Sunday, Merrifield went four for four and scored twice in the Storm Chasers’ 10-3 loss at Oklahoma City. (John Lamb allowed four runs in three innings and took the loss) It was the second straight four-hit game for Merrifield, who raised his average to .419.

“He’s a gamer, he’s always been that way,” Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. “I’ve had more area scouts, when I’m down in the Carolinas, ask about Whit Merrifield than any other player we have. He’s just one of those guys that all of those areas scouts really wanted to sign.”

At Omaha, Merrifield has played an odd split in the field: second base and left field. At Class AA Northwest Arkansas earlier this season, he spent some time at shortstop as well. Last year for the Naturals, he played every position except catcher, and that included a relief appearance against Arkansas.

That wasn’t mop-up duty, though. Merrifield pitched a scoreless 13th inning and got the save.

“He’s a very smart baseball player, valuable to a club, because he can play multiple positions,” Picollo said. “He really can play anywhere on the field other than catch. He’s a great make-up guy, really understands the game. He’s a winner. There is not a selfish side to him where he’s worried about his performance.”

You won’t see Merrifield’s name on most lists of Royals top prospects, but he just keeps earning promotions.

“He’s the type of player where you just keep giving him opportunities and see how he responds to each level,” Picollo said. “Now he’s in Triple-A and the next one is the big leagues. So we’ll see how he does.”

So far so good.

Other games

**Lane Adams is also on a serious roll. Adams fell a double short of hitting for the cycle as Northwest Arkansas won 6-5 at Frisco. Adams hit a three-run homer as part of a four-run third inning, added a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning and had a RBI triple in the eighth. Adams also stole his 27th base of the season. Adams has a six-game hitting streak in which he is batting .385 (10 for 26) with three homers, three doubles, a triple and 12 RBIs. Starter Tim Melville allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks over four innings, but the Naturals bullpen gave up one hit in five innings.

**Christian Binford allowed two runs on five hits over six innings, but took the loss as Class A-Advanced Wilmington fell 4-2 at Salem. Binford, 5-4, struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter. In his last five starts he has 28 strikeouts and no walks. Wilmington had eight singles.

**Designated hitter Mauricio Ramos hit a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning as Class A Lexington beat Augusta 3-2. After the first two Legends struck out in the ninth, Frank Schwindel singled ahead of Ramos’ walk-off hit. Starter Jake Junis allowed two unearned runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked one. Kevin Perez, 1-1, struck out seven and surrendered only one hit in 3 1/3 innings.

**DH Parker Morin had two hits, including a solo homer, and scored twice as Rookie-Advanced Idaho Falls beat Grand Junction 7-6. Left fielder Brawlun Gomez and right fielder Brandon Thomasson also had two hits. Zach Lovvorn, 2-1, gave up two runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings of relief. He fanned five.

**Right fielder Cristian Cano had a triple and three RBIs and first baseman Joshua Banuelos and third baseman Ryan Dale each had two RBIs as Rookie Burlington routed Greeneville 9-0. Chase Vallot hit his fourth double, walked twice and scored two times. Shortstop Marten Gasparini had two hits and scored twice. In his second pro start, Foster Griffin pitched two perfect innings.

To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/pgrathoff