Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Myers opens to solid reviews

ST. PETERSBURG — Okay.

That's how Wil Myers described his first 10 games in the majors, a whirlwind since the Rays' 22-year-old prized prospect was promoted from Triple A and debuted June 18 in Boston.

He has a .268 average with hits in eight of the games, swatted two dramatic homers and driven in eight runs, struck out 10 times and walked just once. He has been aggressive and faster than expected on the bases and more than adequate in rightfield while not being tested much, and has handled himself well in the big-league clubhouse.

"I've done okay," Myers said. "I'm feeling better. I'm not as anxious as I was to start off when I was in Boston. I'm starting to feel it come around a little more."

It won't always be easy, especially as opponents start testing his patience and strike zone discipline by throwing more breaking balls, specifically off the plate. And Myers fully understands slumps are coming, saying the key is having the confidence to know he will come out of them.

How has he looked to others? Here are some first impressions from teammates, opponents and one interested observer, longtime Braves star Dale Murphy, to whom Myers has been compared in looks and form.

Dale Murphy

former All-Star, Braves TV analyst

I know people say there is a resemblance, and it looks like there is a little bit. How big is he? (6 feet 4, 210 pounds) That's about what I was at that age, so there's kind of a resemblance in body type as well. It's kind of funny, but since I got on Twitter (@DaleMurphy3) a fan will say, "I just saw Wil Myers, and he reminds me of you at that age." So it's a real compliment — for me. I played a long time before him, so it's probably more of a compliment for me because he has no idea who that old guy is.

He's fun to watch. I'm really impressed. He's a big, tall guy, but he's got a swing that's real simple and easily repeatable, which is one of the challenges for taller players.

Joe Maddon

Rays manager

As a player, (he is) not overwhelmed. Physically, extremely gifted. As a person, somewhat naïve and entertaining. He's been very comfortable, in a good way. I don't mean "comfortable" attitudinally speaking in a negative way. He's just like, "I can do this."

John Gibbons

Jays manager; former opposing minor-league manager, Royals coach

He can do some damage with his tremendous power. You saw that (Monday) night with the homer to centerfield. And he has good opposite-field power. I think he's going to be great for these guys. He's not a slow slug who just hits for power. He can move, he can do different things, he really fits their mold over here. (Tuesday) we walked (Evan) Longoria to face him, and he came up and burned us (with a run-scoring single). That tells you something right there. … Teams are going to test him with offspeed stuff soon, but I've seen him hit that stuff, too.

I think he's got a chance to be a great one, I really do. And he's a good guy. He's one of those guys you like. You look at him, he's the All-American boy. That's what he is. He's like Longoria, and in due time they're hoping he turns out like him, the same mold. They're guys that'll be the face of an organization because they're class guys and talented.

Andrew Friedman

Rays executive VP

One of the things that's really stood out has been how calm he's been. The pace of the game is definitely different than it is in the minor leagues; the speed of the game is much quicker. But so far he's been able to exhale and slow the game down, and that's been evident in his play so far.

Evan Longoria

Rays All-Star teammate

Obviously he has a ton of natural ability. I feel like he has a chance to be a very special player, one of those possible five-tool guys that you don't really get to see a whole lot. I think the expectations are high from the organization, obviously, but I think he's going to be in a good situation here where he's going to be able to kind of ease into a role. He's not going to be expected to go out and hit two home runs every night and really carry the team. I think that's going to put him in a situation to succeed and to kind of get comfortable in the clubhouse, comfortable with himself and to really bring out the best in his play and abilities.

He's a pretty cool guy. It doesn't seem like (the pressure of the majors) has bothered him too much. Although I remember thinking back to my first couple days, and I may have handled it well, but a lot of times there was kind of a storm brewing inside of excitement and nervousness and anxiousness and all the things that are good and you would expect of the moment. But as far as it goes on the field, it seems like he's handled it well and he's been able to translate that into some early success.

Matt Joyce

Rays teammate

I think he's a typical new young kid in a situation where he's still trying to get a feel for everybody and how things are — the clubhouse atmosphere, the rules and whatnot. He's done a great job of it. He's been pretty quiet, goes about his work the right way, puts in the time and goes out there and plays the game hard. As a new guy, that's pretty much all you can ask for.

Derek Shelton

Rays hitting coach

After watching him for 10 games, I like it. He's tightened up some of the things that we saw in spring training. A lot of credit goes to him and (Triple-A hitting coach) Dave Myers. He's a young hitter, and he's going to expand the zone at times, but as you mature, you tighten up your zone. I like how he competes in at-bats. I like how if pitchers make mistakes, he's getting the ball on the barrel, and I think that's a really good sign for a young hitter.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays. View his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/rays.

     
       
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