Prospect of the Day: Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City Royals
With Bryce Harper and Mike Trout firmly established in the majors, the best outfield prospect in the minor leagues is now Wil Myers of the Kansas City Royals. He's tearing through the Pacific Coast League like a tornado on the prairie, devastating Triple-A competition for the Omaha Stormchasers.
Wil Myers was a high school catcher from High Point, North Carolina. Considered one of the best prep prospects available in the 2009 draft, he slipped to the third round due to large bonus demands and a University of South Carolina scholarship. The Royals met his demands, giving him a $2,000,000 bonus, equivalent to a mid first-round pick. Myers started his pro career by hitting .426/.488/.735 in 18 games for Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League.
Myers began 2010 with Burlington in the Low-A Midwest League, hitting .289/.409/.500 in 68 games, with 10 homers, 10 steals, 48 walks, and 55 strikeouts in 242 at-bats. Promoted at mid-season to High-A Wilmington, he hit .346/.453/.512 with 37 walks and 39 strikeouts in 205 at-bats. Keep in mind that both Burlington and Wilmington are difficult parks for hitters. The main negative was erratic defense behind the plate, but his bat looked tremendous.
The Royals dropped the catching idea at the beginning of 2011, moving him to the outfield. His season for Double-A Northwest Arkansas was disappointing: he hit just .254/.353/.393, although he maintained decent components with a 52/87 BB/K ratio in 354 at-bats. Poor health was a factor: he missed a month of the season with a knee injury, and even when on the field he didn't look quite right, not running as well as in the past and showing some problems with his swing.
Returning to Northwest Arkansas to begin 2012, Myers got off to a terrific start, hitting .343/.414/.731 in 35 games with 13 homers. Promoted to Triple-A Omaha last month, he's remained hot, hitting .333/.407/.719 in 26 games, with 11 walks and 20 strikeouts in 96 at-bats. Combined, he's hitting .339/.412/.726 on the season, with 17 doubles, 22 homers, 27 walks, and 62 strikeouts in 230 at-bats.
Myers is a 6-3, 205 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born December 10, 1990. Although his speed is down a tick since high school and he's not going to steal a ton of bases, he runs well for a bigger player, well enough that the Royals have played him in center field this year. As befits a former catcher, he has a strong, right field quality throwing arm, although he's still working on the finer points of outfield play.
It is with the bat that Myers truly shines. Last summer he had difficulty with pitches inside, but adjustments to his batting stance closed up that hole. Having a healthy knee also helps, and Pacific Coast League observers report that pitchers haven't been able to find the key to getting Myers out consistently this year. He was very aggressive in the Texas League before his promotion, but has actually shown a better feel for contact in Triple-A. He works counts when necessary, but will jump on anything hittable, showing power to all fields. A few observers questioned his effort on the field last summer, but that hasn't been an issue this year. Again, the knee may have had something to do with that.
Myers has shown few weaknesses this year, although there are currently no clear openings on the major league roster. More Triple-A experience can't hurt him, but at some point, if the competition just isn't teaching him anything or challenging him, the pressure to promote him will increase.
I think Myers profiles better in the long run as a corner guy, but as Rob Neyer pointed out a few days ago, he's currently blocked by Jeff Francoeur and Alex Gordon.
In the short run, it boils down to this: will the Royals feel comfortable defensively with Myers in center field? As soon as the answer is yes, Myers will take his spot in the Royals lineup.