Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Myers impresses in first workout

PORT CHARLOTTE — Every indication the Rays have given since acquiring Wil Myers in a trade from Kansas City is the highly touted outfield prospect will open the season in the minors.

And every indication Myers gave once he stepped onto the field Thursday for his first spring workout is he's going to at least make it a subject of spirited conversation, if not actual debate, throughout the spring.

Sure, it was just an informal batting practice session in shorts, on a side field, with minor-league coach Skeeter Barnes throwing.

But it sure was something.

"It's impressive," hitting coach Derek Shelton said. "And I think the thing that's the most impressive is the bat speed … and the way the ball comes off his bat. You can see it not only when he's hitting on the field, but even off a tee. You don't see very many people that generate that much bat speed. First day, it's exciting to see."

Also, apparently, to hear.

"It's a different sound," Shelton said. "It's loud. You don't hear many guys that can create that sound, and he's definitely creating it."

Shelton watched from behind the cage, where a half-dozen top Rays officials just happened to flock from different sides of the training complex as the 6-foot-3, 190-pound 22-year-old — so excited he didn't sleep much Wednesday — grabbed his 34-inch MaxBat and showed off.

"I had some nerves when I first stepped in," Myers said. "But I think it went well."

Utilityman Sean Rodriguez had a similar take from centerfield, where he watched a half-dozen balls sail — some quite far — over the fences.

"It was coming out hot," Rodriguez said. "I didn't know he was that big. He was hitting the ball firm. How old is he again? He's hitting the ball like a grown man."

Officially, the Rays say they won't make any decision until they get better acquainted with Myers; not only the skills he shows on the field, but how he handles himself.

"For me, a lot of it has to do with watching him and how he reacts to everything; his comportment during the course of a day on the major-league level," manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm so much into that: how he interacts with the players, our conversations, how mature, where the conversations are at, what's he thinking, does it seem like he's able to handle this right now."

There could be significant long-term financial benefits for the Rays in delaying Myers' debut a few weeks into the season (postponing free agency until after his seventh season) or two to three months (keeping him from "Super 2" status for a potentially expensive fourth year of arbitration eligibility).

Maddon insists it also could be better for Myers, a 2009 draft pick with only 3½ months of experience at Triple A.

"For me, this is a baseball decision. I don't make those other decisions. I want to believe that we always make the decision based on what's right for the team at that moment," he said. "I just think it's easier for a young player with that kind of expectation level to get some time under his belt on the minor-league level.

"Get it rolling, get the feel going and you know he's going well. Then walking into a big-league situation is not as difficult, I don't think, as opposed to leaving a camp with all these expectations and this hype and having to match up to that on the major-league level right out of the chute."

Myers — the consensus 2012 minor-league player of the year after hitting .314 with 37 home runs, 109 RBIs and a .987 on-base plus slugging percentage between Double A and Triple A — has his own opinion, of course.

"As a player, I feel like I'm major-league ready," he said, "but that's not up to me to decide. It's up to the front office."

And he'll do everything he can over the next six weeks to make it a tougher decision.

"I try not to think about it too much. Obviously, it's on my mind a little bit," Myers said. "I just want to go out and get better every day, and just work on my game."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
What does Rays OF Steven Souza Jr. think of Marc Topkinís Hall of Fame ballot?

What does Rays OF Steven Souza Jr. think of Marc Topkinís Hall of Fame ballot?

We've gotten plenty of reaction since posting our Hall of Fame ballots earlier today – some positive, some negative, some vulgar, some passionate, some rather, um, creative.RELATED: Getting into Hall is hard, voting is, tooAnd then there was th...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Getting into baseballís Hall of Fame is hard. Voting isnít easy either.

Getting into baseballís Hall of Fame is hard. Voting isnít easy either.

First, let's make this clear:Voting for the Hall of Fame is truly a cool thing. An honor. A privilege. A labor of love, from putting an X next to names of obvious choices, such as Chipper Jones and Jim Thome, to spending hours of research and interna...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Chris Archer, Kevin Kiermaier among Rays slated to sign autographs at Fan Fest

Chris Archer, Kevin Kiermaier among Rays slated to sign autographs at Fan Fest

Six of the top Rays players will be signing autographs at the Feb. 10 Fan Fest for a $20 fee that goes to charity.Players slated to sign — and subject to change — are Chris Archer, Kevin Kiermaier, Jake Odorizzi, Wilson Ramos, M...
Updated: 10 hours ago
ESPNís prospect list has four Rays in top 34, led by Brent Honeywell and Willy Adames

ESPNís prospect list has four Rays in top 34, led by Brent Honeywell and Willy Adames

Four Rays ranked in the top 34 spots in prospect rankings compiled by ESPN's Keith Law.RHP Brent Honeywell, a 2014 draftee, was slated 15th and SS Willy Adames, acquired from Detroit in the 2014 trade of David Price, was 20th.1B/LHP Brendan McKay, th...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Brent Honeywell, Willy Adames lead Rays prospects in Baseball Americaís top 100

Brent Honeywell, Willy Adames lead Rays prospects in Baseball Americaís top 100

The Rays had two players in the top 20 and six overall in Baseball America's annual ranking of the game's top 100 prospects.RHP Brent Honeywell heads the Rays contingent at No. 14 with shortstop Willy Adames at No. 19.The other ranked Rays are 1B/LHP...
Published: 01/22/18
Why free agency hasnít turned out fun (yet) for ex-Rays pitcher Alex Cobb

Why free agency hasnít turned out fun (yet) for ex-Rays pitcher Alex Cobb

RHP Alex Cobb never expected to be going into late January without knowing where he was going for spring training.The longtime Ray's first foray into free agency hasn't gone as planned, much like the 150-plus others waiting for something to give in a...
Published: 01/20/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson has much to be excited about heading into his second season in the majors.But before packing for spring training, he took some time last weekend to provide help for families needing assistance in dealing with cancer.Hi...
Published: 01/19/18
Ex-Rays star Longoria dons Giants jersey, looks forward to full-stadium environment in San Francisco

Ex-Rays star Longoria dons Giants jersey, looks forward to full-stadium environment in San Francisco

Longtime Rays star Evan Longoria was formally introduced in San Francisco today, adding the visual of him pulling on his new Giants jersey, switching to No. 10 since 3 is retired.Longoria said he welcomed the chance to play on a contending team stock...
Published: 01/19/18
What do Rays look like now? What will they look like March 29?

What do Rays look like now? What will they look like March 29?

ST. PETERSBURG — Since entering an off-season planning major change and pledging to be open to "anything and everything,'' the Rays have made a few minor moves and one massive one in trading franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria to San Francisco....
Published: 01/19/18
Reminder: Rays spring tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m.

Reminder: Rays spring tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m.

The Rays will put single game tickets for spring training home games on sale today at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com.The Rays are playing 14 home games in Port Charlotte, starting with the Feb. 23 opener vs. Pittsburgh. Tickets will be available at the...
Published: 01/19/18