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Rays top prospects of all-time: No. 9

After 20 years of Rays baseball, we’re counting down the top prospects in franchise history.

2011 XM All-Star Futures Game
Wil Myers was once one of the top hitters in minor league baseball
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The next player on our list of top prospects in franchise history arrived in a big trade and won Rookie of the Year, but ultimately, he didn’t develop into the franchise cornerstone like many had expected.

20. SS Reid Brignac
19. RHP Matt White
18. RHP Chris Archer
17. RHP Wade Davis/LHP Jake McGee
16. RHP Jeremy Hellickson
15. 1B/LHP Brendan McKay
14. SS Tim Beckham
13. RHP Brent Honeywell
12. SS Willy Adames
11. OF Desmond Jennings
10. LHP Blake Snell

9. OF Wil Myers

Acquired: Traded by Royals (2012)

Baseball America Top-100 ranks: 4 (2012), 10 (2010), 28 (2011)
Organization Top-30 ranks: 1 (2012), 2 (2010*), 3 (2009*), 3 (2011*)
League Top-20 ranks: 1 (Pioneer League 2009*), 1 (Pacific Coast League 2012*), 2 (International League 2013), 3 (Midwest League 2010*), 3 (Texas League 2012*), 4 (Carolina League 2010*), 5 (Arizona Fall League 2011*), 13 (Texas League 2011*)

Organization best tools: Best average hitter (2009*, 2011*, 2012*), Best strike-zone discipline (2010*, 2011*), Best power hitter (2012*)
League best tools: Best power prospect (Pacific Coast League 2012*)

*With Royals

Myers received many of his prospect accolades while still with Kansas City, but the Dec. 9, seven-player trade that sent James Shields, Wade Davis, and eventually Elliott Johnson to the Royals for Myers and three other prospects beat Baseball America’s publication buzzer, allowing him to be classified as a Rays prospect once.

In that trade, the Rays had to give up one of the best pitchers in team history, but the return was more than fair. Myers was a premier prospect in baseball and Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year. He destroyed opposing pitchers in 2012, finishing second in the minors with 37 home runs. The 21 year old batted .314 with a .387 on-base percentage and .600 slugging percentage.

Myers had been a top-100 prospect twice before, but 2012 was his breakout season. Raw power had always been promised, but he didn’t show it consistently in games until that season. His previous career high was just 14 home runs, and he only had 27 in his career until that point.

The Royals, still mired in a long era of futility, were willing to pay high bonuses to land top amateur talent in the draft, and that helped them land Myers in 2009. He was thought of as a first-round talent, and according to Baseball America ($), Kansas City even considered taking him in the first round. However, his price tag allowed the Royals to land him with the No. 91 pick and sign him for $2 million.

At that point, Myers was not yet an outfielder — he was a catcher. That’s part of what made him such a coveted talent. He had a great swing with power potential, and he offered that from a valuable defensive position. In 18 Pioneer League games in his pro debut, he hit four home runs and batted .426 with a .488 on-base percentage and .735 slugging percentage. Thanks to his bat speed, power potential, athleticism, and baseball acumen, he was named the No. 1 prospect in the league by BA.

He made the jump to full-season ball in his first full professional season, and Kansas City’s No. 3 prospect probably even exceeded expectations. In 68 Midwest League games, he hit 10 home runs and posted a .908 OPS. He was promoted to Class A-Advanced Wilimington in the Carolina League, and the 19 year old was somehow even better in a pitchers’ park, batting .346 with 24 extra-base hits and a .965 OPS in 58 games.

At this point, it was clear Myers’ bat was well ahead of his glove. Like Bryce Harper in the Washington organization, it was determined that it would be best to move Myers to the outfield to get his offense to the big leagues faster instead of waiting for his raw defense to catch up.

Of course, player development is often not linear. Myers struggled to adjust to his new position in 2011, he missed time with a knee injury, and he was not the same hitter he had been. In the Texas League, he batted just .254 with a .746 OPS. He struck out more, and his power potential wasn’t being shown in games. Clearly, the turnaround he showed the following season was enormous.

In his first season with the organization, Myers was sent to Triple A for the first 2 12 months to manipulate his service time — and presumably, to give him some more time to work on his defense in the outfield before he got called up. When he did get the call, he did not disappoint. He went 0-for-4 in his debut, but he proceeded to go on an eight-game hitting streak. His first home run was a grand slam off C.C. Sabathia at Yankee Stadium.

He only played half the season in the majors, but Myers easily won Rookie of the Year, taking 23 of 30 first place votes. Teammate Chris Archer got one and finished third. Myers batted .293 with a .356 OBP and .478 SLG with 13 home runs in 88 games.

In the postseason, Myers had a defensive gaffe that cost the Rays. He was in position to make a catch but peeled off when he thought Desmond Jennings would make the play. It led to a big inning in a Red Sox blowout. His play in the outfield remained inconsistent.

Unfortunately, Myers was unable to build on that rookie campaign, at least with the Rays. He had his worst season in his sophomore year, batting .222 with a .614 OPS. He missed nearly half the season with a wrist injury, and trying to play through it likely had a significant effect on his play.

That would be his last season with the Rays. In a three-team, 11-player trade, Myers was sent to the Padres. The Rays received veteran catcher Rene Rivera and four young players — pitchers Burch Smith and Travis Ott, first baseman Jake Bauers, and outfielder Steven Souza Jr.

More wrist problems troubled Myers in his Padres debut. He eventually had surgery to address the issue, and he only played in 60 games. In his limited action, he did improve from the prior season, hitting eight home runs with a .763 OPS.

In 2016, Myers moved to first base, which is probably his best fit defensively. Petco Park hosted the All-Star Game that season, and he represented the Padres. Over the last two seasons, he’s missed just 12 games, and he has 58 home runs, tying him for 29th in the league in that span.

Still, Myers has never reached the highs of his rookie season. In three seasons with the Padres, he has a .789 OPS, quite a bit short of his .831 mark as a rookie. He’s batting .252 with a .333 OBP, down from his rookie rates of .293 and .354. Maybe pitchers made adjustments, and he was unable to adjust back. Over the last three seasons, he’s eighth in the league in strikeout rate among hitters with 1,500-plus plate appearances. Now 27, despite the strikeouts and low averages, his power is an asset.