What to Expect: Wil Myers and Tony Cingrani (Part One)
There’s something strange about anticipating prospects. It’s much more exciting to imagine the ‘otherworldly potential’ of guys crushing the minor leagues with their 21 K/9 or sky-high OPS or whatever else it is that makes us as excited as little school children on Excited School Children Day. It’s why the baseball cards of top prospects are going for higher prices on eBay than they probably ever will. We love to believe the hype and imagine the next Mickey Mantle toying with pitchers or hitters, but then, once that prospect comes up and puts up regular statistics just like anyone else, the hype dies down. We get disappointed. Their eBay prices plummet.
For every Mike Trout there’s a Reid Brignac. No doi, you say, but hype, at one point, has tricked everyone. Remember that movie ‘Watchmen’? Well, reading the graphic novel on which it’s based was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The movie? A waste of an overpriced IMAX ticket. It’s taking every bit of willpower to not rant about The Phantom Menace and type a bunch of e-sobs my editor would never publish.
Anyway… sigh… The Phantom Menace… hold on… okay, I’m okay. There are two imminent call-ups you should be watching: Cincinnati Reds SP Tony Cingrani and Tampa Bay Rays OF Wil Myers. Let’s take a look at each.
Although I personally believe it temporary, the Rays appear to be in trouble. Once you get past their one, two, and three hitters — Desmond Jennings, Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria — it gets ugly. Matt Joyce is hitting .147, James Loney is hitting .172, Sam Fuld is hitting .087, Yunel Escobar is hitting .098, and Kelly Johnson is hitting .185. Obviously those numbers will improve, a lot, but aside from Loney and Escobar’s solid defense, where is the upside? I bet that, at the bottom of the AL East, the Rays are asking the same question.
Myers poses an insta-bat. Considered one of the best — if not the best — hitters in all of the minor leagues, Myers has been considered MLB-ready since hit time last year in the Kansas City Royals organization.
Between AA and AAA last season he crushed a .314/.387/.600 en route to the Minor League POY award. He was awesome. Many clamored for his call-up last season, but the Royals figured it best to keep him in AAA. Maybe it was to keep his service-time down and gain another year of arbitration, or maybe they realized the aforementioned people-love-hype rule.
In a keeper league, Myers is gold, but that might not mean much for this year. Although he has a 11:9 SO:BB ratio in 10 games this year, he struck out 140 times last season. He did still have that high OBP, but the strikeouts should still somewhat temper your expectations. This is something he can improve, though.
What so many people loved about Trout last year was the sense that his speed was ‘slump proof’. Even if he weren’t hitting for power or average, his speed would still produce fantasy production through Stolen Bases and Runs. Bryce Harper’s insane power (which is considered much more than Myers’s) was also a sense of comfort for owners wary of an adjustment period — even if he was striking out, he’d still launch a few over the right-field wall.
Myers has a power bat, though not to the level of Harper, and doesn’t have speed. He won’t steal you bases and might not score many runs batting fifth or sixth for the Rays. It also might take a few weeks for the Rays to bite the proverbial bullet defensively and plug Myers into the lineup. They built their team around defense this season, so it’s possible they don’t want to hinder that with Myers’s average-at-absolutely-best glove. Still, the deadline to keep his ‘arbitration clock at zero’ is late April, so I’d expect him then.
Also, if you’re getting impatient with some other Rays bats, he might provide a boost for the top of the lineup. Presumably he’d move Zobrist to second and boot Ryan Roberts to the bench.
If you’re a Giancarlo Stanton, Yoenis Cespedes, or Jose Bautista owner and can afford the bench spot, Myers is definitely worth considering. He should be owned in all keeper leagues.
The Tony Cingrani section of this story will be released later today.