Sunday, May 27, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Newly acquired Wil Myers excited to join Tampa Bay Rays

ST. PETERSBURG

By now, you've probably heard that newly acquired Rays outfielder Wil Myers is one of the top prospects in all of baseball. That he projects to be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter. Has the power to hit 25, or 30 — or is it 40? — home runs. Reminds people of Dale Murphy. Has five-tool ability and All-Star potential.

"Probably everything you've heard is pretty close to true," said former and future teammate Jake Odorizzi, a pitcher who was also part of the deal. "He's incredible to watch. He's an exciting player. … I think he's going to be a special one."

The Rays are certainly banking on it after Sunday's blockbuster trade in which they sent two key members of their pitching staff, James Shields and Wade Davis, to Kansas City for a package, headlined by Myers, of four prospects.

"Wil Myers, from what I understand, is a potential high-impact middle-of-the-order bat just like Shields is a high-impact top-of-the-order pitcher," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "So that's why I'm saying it sounds like a good trade for both sides.

"He has the potential to hit for average, to hit for power, he runs well, he's a solid outfielder. He sounds very calm and sure of himself, and he's got a good feel for the day. I expect someone who has a high level of charisma and a way to walk through the day very confident. It sounds like he's got all the ingredients to be very good."

The proper attitude is among them, said Jeff Berry, the co-head of CAA Baseball, which represents Myers.

"He's a great kid, an outstanding person, and he loves to play and compete," Berry said. "He enjoys playing. That's his main motivation. … He really enjoys playing the game."

Myers said he was excited, relieved and a bit humbled by the trade and all the attention it has garnered — including a "Wil He, or Won't He" ticket promotion by the Triple-A Durham Bulls, and more questions about why he spells his name with one L. (It has always been that way, he said.)

And as if the deal weren't enough of an event, Myers already had something to celebrate Monday, as he turned 22.

"It's been quite a birthday," he said on a conference call.

The Rays say they won't make any decisions on whether he is ready for the majors until they get to spring training, as much to see how he hits and runs and throws as to get a sense of how he carries himself and the look in his eyes.

Myers figures to be a little nervous and feel a bit awkward as the new kid in town but is determined to show he is ready. His stats seemed to show that last season, as he moved from Double-A Northwest Arkansas to Triple-A Omaha with some staggering totals, especially for a 21-year-old: a .314 average, 37 home runs, 109 RBIs and a .387 on-base percentage.

"As a player you want to be confident in your ability and know that you think you're ready for the big leagues," Myers said. "But it's not my decision to make; you leave it in the hands of the front office."

Some areas of his game need to be improved, such as cutting down on strikeouts (140 last season in 591 plate appearances), improving his average and getting more comfortable in the outfield, where he moved from catching after 2010 (and projects most likely as a rightfielder).

As such, there are also business reasons that could factor into the Rays' decision. For example, they can extend the period of time until he reaches free agency to seven years by keeping him in the minors until late April, and keep him from becoming eligible for arbitration a year early by waiting until late May/early June.

Myers knows enough to understand there are a lot of things he can't control. But the one thing he can, he has a pretty good read on.

"I just want to go out," he said, "and try to be an exciting player."

And when he does, odds are that everyone will hear about it.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

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