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USF's Kevin Merrell 33rd pick by the Oakland Athletics

USF infielder Kevin Merrell (6) connects for a double in the third inning of their American Athletic Conference game against Tulane Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in Clearwater. The Bulls won 7-6.
USF infielder Kevin Merrell (6) connects for a double in the third inning of their American Athletic Conference game against Tulane Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in Clearwater. The Bulls won 7-6.
Published Jun. 13, 2017

Perhaps fittingly, junior SS Kevin Merrell — USF's resident speedster — got off the draft board with stunning fleetness Monday night.

A 100-meter district champion as a moonlighting track athlete at Steinbrenner High, Merrell was drafted by the A's with the 33rd overall pick (Competitive Balance Round A) of the Major League Baseball draft. Considered no less than a four-tool prospect, Merrell watched the draft from his family's Odessa home.

QUICK EXIT: Draft wait likely short for USF's Kevin Merrell.

The 51st-ranked draft prospect per Baseball America, Merrell — who led the American Athletic Conference with a .384 average this past season — becomes the third-highest draft choice in program history. C Scott Hemond (A's, 14th overall, 1986) and SS Jason Dellaero (White Sox, 15th overall, 1997) were first-rounders.

His estimated pick value (per MLB.com) is $2 million.

"I'll be honest, I knew the A's were one of the teams that were interested," Merrell said. "I never thought I'd be picked 33. I'm pretty speechless right now, so thankful."

He watched the draft from his Odessa home with 20 to 25 friends and family members. They dined on yellow rice, black beans and roast pork.

Merrell became the first USF player to lead the Bulls in hitting three consecutive years. This past season, he also led USF in runs (48), hits (83), slugging percentage (.569) and stolen bases (19).

According to coach John Crumbley, Merrell also is the first Steinbrenner player ever drafted.

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