After trading James Shields and Wade Davis late Sunday night, the Tampa Bay Rays have one exciting new bat on their roster: Wil Myers. Myers was recently rated the #1 prospect in the Royals' system by Baseball Prospectus, and he was rated the #3 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball Americaback in July. He hit 37 home runs in Double and Triple-A last year at the age of 22, and he's arguably the biggest offensive prospect -- nay, the best prospect period -- in the minors at the moment.
There's little not to like about Myers. He hits for both power and average, and his plate discipline skills are very developed for a 22 year old. From all reports, he's a solid defensive player, splitting time between center field, right field, and third base last season. And he's young, and has a full six years of team control remaining. Like most prospects, he may have some growing pains and take some time adjusting to the major leagues, but he has the potential to be a middle of the order bat for the Rays for a while.
But anyway, don't take my word for it. Here's what some of the prospect gurus out there have to say about Myers:
Jason Parks, Baseball Prospectus:
Myers is ready to jump into major-league waters, where his bat is expected to produce immediately. Against high-level pitching, holes that didn't exist in the minors start to open up, and for Myers, quality fastballs on the inner-third will be a good test of his hand speed. Anything left out over the plate is batting practice, and he doesn't miss many opportunities to crush mistakes. But the difference between Triple-A pitching and major-league pitching is extreme, and Myers will need to prove capable of hitting quality offerings to live up to his lofty hype. (Source)
Marc Hulet, FanGraphs:
He has impressive raw power, obviously, but his approach at the plate is still a work-in-progress and he struck out 140 times in 134 games, mainly due to the conscious effort to hit for more pop. His .314 career average has been influenced by some very high BABIPs that will be hard to duplicate at the big league level until he improves against breaking balls and tightens up his two-strike approach.
Defensively, Myers is still learning the nuances of right field but he has average range and a plus arm. He has also played some center field where he projects to be fringe-average, as well as third base where he's raw but could develop into an average fielder. (Source)
John Sickels, Minor League Ball
An AL scout who saw him struggle in the Texas League last year pointed out that no one will know how Myers responds to struggles in the big leagues until he goes through them. Last year's struggles will either be the lesson that helps Myers pull out of his next slump, or a warning sign that when things get tough, he may buckle.
"We'll see the next time he fails," the scout said. "Is this the real guy or was that the real guy (last year) or is it something in between? . . . He's feeling confident right now. He's showing the skill he didn't have in Double-A. He's showing that big power. I wasn't seeing that in batting practice last year. He wasn't taking aggressive swings." (Source <-- Read this!)
As these quotes hopefully point out, all prospects -- even the best of the best -- come with question marks. Myers may have dominated the minor leagues last season, and he may have been Baseball America's minor league Player of the Year, but he still has some minor holes in his game to work on (notably, his strikeout rate). Most prospect analysts had figured he'd start the year in Triple-A, and then likely earn a mid-season call-up after working on bringing down his strikeout rate while still hitting for power.
So don't be disappointed when/if Myers doesn't make the major league team out of Spring Training. The Rays will likely play their normal game with prospects and keep him in the minors long past when may of us would have called them up already. But barring the unforeseen, Myers will man the outfield in Tampa Bay in 2013. And that's one damn exciting thought.