Is Rays Top Prospect Wil Myers Blazing A Trail To Tampa Bay?
The last time I wrote about Wil Myers was in early May (link here) and he was struggling to find his power, striking out too much, and couldn't hit right handed pitchers. He continued to struggle through mid-May but he seems to have come alive over the past week.
On May 5th he had a respectable slash line (batting avg/on-base%/slugging%) of .275/.367/.422 with 3 home runs in 120 plate appearances. These numbers were good but they were a considerable drop off from his impressive 2012 with the Kansas City Royals Triple A affiliate Omaha Storm Chasers where he hit .304/.378/.554 with 24 home runs in 439 plate appearances.
In the weeks that followed he continued to slump seeing his numbers drop to a season low .244/.341/.372 on May 21st and some on social media and Rays-centric blogs were beginning to question whether his talent would re-surface or if his 2012 season was simply an effect of playing in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.
A lot of the rumbles have died down as in the last week he has shown the potential that the Rays were expecting when they acquired him hitting .393 (11 for 28) with 5 home runs, 15 RBI, and only struck out 5 times in 29 plate appearances to raise his season numbers to .266/.346/.473 with 9 homers and 40 RBI.
The two aspects of his game that seemed to be holding him back were his strike out rate and struggles against right handed pitching and those numbers even before the outburst over the past week have been steadily improving which may be a big reason for his recent offensive outburst.
The strike out rate was alarming as it had 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. Slowly but surely Myers is starting to bring that strikeout total back in line to where it was in 2012 and it now stands at 26.2% (56 strike outs in 241 PAs).
The second problem was his struggles against right handed pitching. Up to May 5th he was only hitting .213/.322/.307 over his first 90 plate appearances against righties. This was not a problem for Myers in 2012 as he hit .317/.390/.580 in 433 plate appearances against right handers between the Double A Northwest Arkansas Naturals and Triple A Omaha Storm Chasers . He's has improved in this area as well raising his season average against right handed pitchers to .243/.331/.419.
As Myers heats up so will the conversation as to when the Rays will bring him up. Their is an approximate date that some teams hold players back to ensure that they aren't qualified as Super 2 (read more here) and that date is quickly approaching (estimated early to mid June).
With the Rays offense continuing to be among the best in baseball since mid-April and showing no signs of slowing down it would appear that Myers has positioned himself as the first player called up in the event of an injury, which is how Joe Maddon scripted back in mid-March when he 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."
For now it is a breath of fresh air for Rays fans to see him show the skills that earned him the #4 ranking on Baseball America's #4 top 100 prospect list entering the 2013 season and the same skills that the Rays thought they were acquiring when they parted ways with James Shields.