Realistically, Ryan Merrill had his best chance to professional baseball two years ago, when he was a 15th-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals.
He opted to come to TCU instead, believing it could bring him home to Omaha and the College World Series.
“After seeing TCU in Omaha numerous times, I knew I had a very good shot to get a chance to play in the World Series,” he said. “It was an easy decision for me.”
It worked out much like Merrill envisioned. He is playing in his second College World Series, in his hometown, and Tuesday he homered at TD Ameritrade Park in the Frogs’ 4-1 victory against Texas A&M.
“What an awesome story,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “He deserves all the attention he’s getting today and last night.”
But it came at a cost.
The senior shortstop went undrafted last week, which means an uncertain path into professional baseball.
“That’s life, and I understand that,” he said. “I’ve had a great career of baseball. TCU has done so much for me, and I’m so blessed to be able to come here and play with this group of guys and be coached by this group of coaches.”
Asked if he plans to pursue pro ball, he said, “We’ll see how it goes.”
Schlossnagle worked hard to keep TCU in Merrill’s plans two years ago, but Merrill didn’t need much convincing to come to Fort Worth out of Iowa Western..
“We were very concerned because we were really counting on him,” Schlossnagle said. “He assured us on that day he was coming to school. Not that he didn’t want to play professional baseball, but he had a desire not just to play at TCU but to play in Omaha. That was a bucket list item for him.”
So Merrill has checked that box. He has played in six CWS games, going 5-for-16 with a home run and four runs batted in. Last year, he was 3-for-10 with two sacrifice flies in four games.
Next? Another game Thursday night. And continuing to take in the last days of his TCU career.
“I’m enjoying it,” he said. “Glad to keep playing baseball.”