The Prodigy Has Arrived: Wil Myers Promoted By The Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays’ top prospect Wil Myers will see his first big league action as the Rays open their away series against the Boston Red Sox with a double header on Tuesday. The Rays made the announcement following their 5-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, calling Myers out of his game with the AAA Durham Bulls after he doubled and scored a run against the Indianapolis Indians. Reserve 2B Ryan Roberts has been optioned to make room on the Rays’ 25-man roster.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 16, 2013
The Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year in 2012, Myers was the key piece in the December trade that sent James Shields, Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson to the Kansas City Royals. Fans in Kansas City had hoped for Myers to replace the offensively struggling Jeff Francouer as the Royals’ right fielder. Given the high price their team paid to land him, expectations immediately following the trade may have been even higher among Rays fans who longed for an impact bat in return for Shields.
The Rays sent Myers to AAA out of spring training, hoping to make him a more complete player, working on defense, baserunning, and his approach at the plate. Initially, Myers struggled in Durham, but since the beginning of June, he has been on fire, hitting .339 and stroking 5 home runs in 14 games en route to an OPS of 1.050.
That was enough for Tampa Bay Executive Vice President Andrew Friedman, who said that [quote]Myers’ streak “certainly accelerated the conversations,” to bring him up. Friedman praised the way that Myers had progressed in AAA on multiple fronts, noting that he visited with the Bulls last month and saying, “the thing that really stood out in those five games was how well he played defensively.” [/quote]
In remarks announcing the callup, he also highlighted the 22-year-old Myers’s progress against right handed pitchers and made the point that he viewed the right-handed swinging Myers as an asset against them.
Also factoring into the decision to call up Myers is the likely passing of the “super-two cutoff.” Were Myers to join the big league team before this cutoff it could mean an extra year of salary arbitration, which the frugal Rays would normally seek to avoid.
Myers has been playing right field for the Bulls and is likely to patrol this position for the Rays, sending Ben Zobrist to second base, and leaving Matt Joyce or Kelly Johnson in left field. Johnson could also play second and has seen some time at third base, where Roberts had been Evan Longoria‘s principal backup.
As much as Myers appears ready to join the Rays, the Rays are also in a position to give him regular playing time without undue pressure. Fourth in the American League in runs scored, the team’s offense is clicking so far, affording Manager Joe Maddon the flexibility to bat Myers lower in the order. Expectations may be high, the skipper says, but if so, “it’s going to come from outside. It’s not going to come from within.”