Four of the five former South Carolina baseball players who were in the big leagues last October are on MLB Opening Day rosters.
Whit Merrifield is the only player from that list not to make the cut, as he was recently optioned to Omaha, the Kansas City Royals’ Triple-A affiliate. Merrifield hit .274 with 6 RBIs and 6 stolen bases this spring, but the move helped create roster space for fellow second baseman Christian Colon, who was out of minor league options.
The American League East will feature three former South Carolina stars, two of whom are with the Toronto Blue Jays: Steve Pearce and Justin Smoak. Pearce, a first baseman by trade like Smoak, will see time in the corner outfield positions.
After having a breakout campaign in 2016 that saw him hit .267 with 26 homers and 87 RBIs, Jackie Bradley Jr. is back patrolling center field for the defending AL East champion Boston Red Sox. Meanwhile, Sam Dyson (38 saves in 2016) is back as closer for the Texas Rangers, who won the AL West last season.
Others could join these four at some point this season. Like Merrifield, a handful have been assigned to Triple-A teams, including pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Tyler Webb, both of whom are in the Yankees organization.
Pitcher Michael Roth is now with the San Francisco Giants’ Triple-A team in Sacramento, Calif. After bouncing around between a couple of different organizations this spring, including the Atlanta Braves, first baseman Christian Walker is in Triple-A with the Arizona Diamondbacks.