On April 12, 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays changed the face of the franchise forever, calling up heralded rookie Evan Longoria to “the show” to see what he could do. That season, Longoria’s incredible attributions catapulted the Rays to the postseason for the first time in franchise history and solidified his role as a superstar in the MLB.
Fast-forward to May 1, 2013. With an extra year of arbitration eligibility about locked up, it seems only fitting a similar move should be made with a prospect itching to show what he is capable of in the big leagues.
Wil Myers has all the tools to become a stud for years to come, just like Longoria did upon his promotion just five years ago. We saw how that worked out as Longoria single-handedly changed the landscape, both on and off the field, for a team that was irrelevant and sat in the American League East basement during its short tenure in the league at that point.
With the Rays’ bats struggling early this season, just as they were in 2008, Myers has the opportunity to come in and make an immediate impact. With his tremendous power and blazing speed, he could give the protection Longoria has been yearning for since the fall of Carlos Pena’s big bat not too long ago. Longoria would now have a man who could get on base with ease right before he steps to the plate, creating more RBI opportunities for the $100-million slugger.
However, Longoria wasn’t just an on-field game changer. He helped change the entire atmosphere of the Rays’ clubhouse. He was the perfect superstar to fit Joe Maddon’s philosophy of keeping it loose and having fun. He became an immediate leader of an already young squad, and it was obvious his impact off the field transcended to the field as well.
So for Myers, the pressure is on, as we all await this new phenom’s arrival. Not just the pressure to produce in games, but to boost the morale of a team sitting in fourth place. The Rays expected to compete for the division in 2013.
Sometimes, all it takes is that one move to turn around an entire season. We saw it with Longoria in 2008; can the Rays repeat it with Myers in 2013? Only time will tell. Until then, Rays’ fans must twiddle their thumbs anxiously and wait for the move to be made.