The Tampa Bay Rays have promoted outfield prospect Wil Myers to the major league roster and will insert him into the right field spot. Fantasy owners, Rays fans, and even some masochistic Royals fans have been waiting for this; what can they expect? Let's take a look.
Myers was drafted in the third round by the Royals in 2009 out of high school in High Point, North Carolina. His bat was considered first-round material, but questions about his ability to remain a catcher, plus a South Carolina scholarship, knocked him down two rounds. The Royals took a shot at him in the third and it took an overslot $2,000,000 bonus to get him into pro ball. His career began well with a .426/.488/.735 mark in 18 games for Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League.
Sent to Low-A Burlington to begin 2010, he hit .289/.408/.500 in 68 games, followed by a stunning .346/.453/.512 mark in 58 games after being promoted to High-A Wilmington. Converting to outfield to get his bat to the majors more quickly, he suffered through a variety of nagging injuries and hit just .254//.353/.393 in 99 games for Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2011.
2012 was much better: fully healthy, he hit .343/.414/.731 with 13 homers in 35 games in Double-A, then .304/.378/.554 with 24 homers in 99 games after being promoted to Triple-A Omaha. His 37 homers were second in the minors. He was clearly an elite prospect heading into 2013, though the Royals felt they needed pitching more than hitting and sent him to Tampa Bay this past December as the key prospect in the James Shields trade.
His performance for Triple-A Durham was a bit sluggish at first, but he's been driving the ball for power for several weeks now and has hit .339/.377/.696 in June, giving him an overall line of .286/.356/.520. When league context is considered, his 2013 season (wRC+ 133) is almost the same as his 2012 season (wRC+137). Overall, he's hit .297/.370/.541 with 38 homers, 136 RBI, 74 walks, and 169 strikeouts in 728 Triple-A plate appearances over 163 games.
Myers is a 6-3, 205 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born December 10, 1990. He's a good athlete with surprising mobility for an ex-catcher, with average running speed and a strong throwing arm. He's athletic enough that the Royals gave him playing time at both third base and center field last year, though ultimately his tools fit best in right. He has the requisite bat for a corner outfield spot, featuring power to all fields. He won't be a huge basestealer but he's efficient when given the opportunity to run, stealing seven bases in eight attempts this year and 36 out of 48 in his career.
His pure hitting skills are inconsistent: I've seen him take big hacks when he thinks he's getting a hittable pitch, which works fine when he gets something hittable and not so fine when he doesn't. He will go through phases when he tries to pull too much. However, I've also seen him work with what the pitcher gives him, showing the ability to go the other way when that's what he's focused on. His plate discipline was superb early in his career and he still shows a good feel for the zone at times, but he's also made a conscious effort to be more aggressive over the last two seasons, in order to boost his power production.
That's a two-edged sword. At his best, he can handle both fastballs and off-speed offerings, but his approach isn't always the best and he is vulnerable to breaking stuff and pitches outside the zone when in an over-aggressive mindset. I think this is a matter of emphasis rather than talent: he has a good natural eye, he just needs to decide how to use it, finding the right balance and developing intelligent aggression. I think he can do that.
Myers has learned all he can from Triple-A pitching; major leaguers will quickly expose any flaws in his approach. I think he has the ability to adapt. In the short run my expectation is that he'll produce power but be rather streaky and perhaps frustrating. In the medium and long runs, he's a prototypical power-hitting right fielder who should produce an impressive batting average and OBP to go with the power.