The Tampa Bay Rays made a major splash this winter with a six-player deal with the Kansas City Royals that sent pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis along with utility infielder Elliot Johnson to the AL Central in exchange for outfield prospect Wil Myers and three other prospects. Myers is considered the best prospect in the minor leagues at this point and was named the 2012 Minor League Player of the Year. So when will he make his big league debut?
It’s easy to understand why there would be so much anticipation for Myers to hit big leagues. The 22-year-old has shot through the minors and has scouts comparing him to former two-time National League MVP Dale Murphy. Last season, he tore the cover off the ball, hitting .314 with a .387 on-base percentage to go along with 37 home runs. Scouts praise his work ethic, his patient approach at the plate and his quick hands, so surely he has to be on the fast track to the big leagues, right?
Well, not quite. The Rays don’t like to put prospects into the hot lights of Opening Day for their MLB debut, preferring instead to give them less-stressful starts throughout the summer. Tampa Bay is content to let the youthful Myers continue to progress at his own rate in their farm system until he’s good and ready to make the transition up to the major league level.
And that lack of pressure to perform immediately will ultimately make Myers a better player. The Rays won’t be leaning on the young outfielder from the start like Kansas City would have. They already have Evan Longoria to lead the offense and David Price to be their ace on the hill. Myers can come in and contribute without having to be the star and carry the club…whenever he ultimately becomes ready.
So as Myers reports to camp as a non-roster invite, Rays’ fans will have to wait to see exactly what they got in exchange for two very good pitchers. With the tools he’s bringing to the plate, however, the wait will be well worth it.