Checking In On Rays Top Prospect Wil Myers
Wil Myers time will come but there are still some issues that he has to work on in Triple-A.
When the Rays sent the centerpiece to this winters James Shields trade and Baseball America’s overall #4 prospect to their minor league camp in mid-March Rays manager Joe Maddon said that Myers bat was near major league ready and bringing him back would depend on him getting hot and the Rays need for a bat. Despite Joe Maddon‘s insistence that there were some things offensively that the organization would like Myers to be aware of and get better with but still many felt sending him down to AAA was simply a matter of conserving service time and delaying his arbitration clock. Michael Valancius of Draysbay.com explains the service time and Super Two process in his article Wil Myers and Super Two.
Because of the financial landscape prevalent in Major League Baseball, especially for mid-small market clubs, sending a top prospect such as Wil Myers to Triple-A will always have a fiscal component but what about the argument that the Rays are a better team with Wil Myers than without?
Early in the season the Rays offense struggled to score runs and there Myers was sitting in Durham’s lineup everyday putting up respectable numbers leaving many fans to vocalize their desire for him to get the call to the big league team. Since their early season struggles the offense has picked up the pace and dating back to April 16th (17 games) they have averaged 5.17 R/G (88 runs). How about Wil Myers and the comments from Joe Maddon that here were some things offensively that the organization would like Myers to be aware of?
2013 With The Bulls.
Thus far as a member of the Rays Triple-A affiliate Durham Bulls Myers is posting a respectable slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) of .275/.367/.422 with 3 home runs in 120 plate appearances. His bat has yet to come around and display the power it did in 2012 with the Royals AAA affiliate Omaha Storm Chasers when he hit .304/.378/.554 with 24 home runs in 439 plate appearances.
What’s Holding Him Back?
The most notable problem this season is his increased strikeout rate which has risen from 22.3% (98 strikeouts in 439 plate appearances) with the Storm Chasers in 2012 to 30.8% (37 strike outs in 120 plate appearances) with the Bulls in 2013.
The second problem seems to be his struggles against right handed pitching which he is hitting .213/.322/.307 over his first 90 plate appearances. This doesn’t appear to be a lingering issue as in 2012 between the Double A Northwest Arkansas Naturals and Triple A Omaha Storm Chasers he hit .317/.390/.580 in 433 plate appearances against right handers.
Will his strikeout rate and struggles against right handed pitching continue throughout the season? Probably not. It is possible that after being traded from the only organization that he had ever known that he may be pressing a bit to establish himself. He is also playing in a new league against pitchers that he may have never seen in stadiums that are new to him. In 2013 he has exactly 60 plate appearances at home and on the road but is strikingly better at home ..347/.450/.510 then on the road where he has struggled hitting only .208/.283/.340.
Just Relax And His Time Will Come.
There is every reason to believe that once he relaxes his natural skills will take over. This will result in Myers being more selective at the plate, swinging at more strikes, getting more favorable counts, and improved power numbers.
Both the Rays and Myers will benefit from allowing these issues to be smoothed out at the Triple-A level rather than hoping that he’ll be able to adjust on the fly at the major league level. When he does finally relax and his natural skills take over it won’t matter if a right hander or left hander is on the mound.
Like Joe Maddon said back in mid-March when his bat gets hot and the Rays need offense he’ll get the call and we’ll see home runs like the one below (maybe minus the bat flip) for our Rays.