Wil Myers' Time Is Now For Tampa Bay Rays

By Thom Tsang
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Myers-mas, Tampa Bay Rays fans:

Now, as for managing expectations … well, that’s a whole different kind of beast, isn’t it?

Long thought to be one of the very top prospects in the game and the prized centerpiece of the James Shields trade, Wil Myers‘ call-up has been anticipated in Tampa Bay essentially since before training. Even though the inevitable wait to mid-June was all but a certainty, the timing now — with the Rays’ offense flying high at eighth in the bigs for June (59 runs) headed into Sunday — is still a little bit surprising.

Then again, considering that this is a 22-year old with very little left to prove, maybe it just makes sense.

Unsurprisingly, Myers’ second season in Triple-A has seen him ruining the days of opposing pitchers, putting up a .283/.354/.514 triple slash that includes a whopping 14 homers over just 288 PA, along with seven steals. That kind of 30-20 full-season upside simply doesn’t exist in the Rays’ outfield, even if the youngster is very unlikely to have that kind of immediate impact in the bigs.

So just what kind of impact will he have?

Well, you’d have to figure that Tampa Bay didn’t call up their top prospect to have him be a part-time player or be in a platoon situation with Matt Joyce, so it’s more than likely that he’ll immediately become the team’s starting right fielder.

With Kelly Johnson being ice-cold and watching his .931 OPS from May 28 plummet to .766 just 14 games later (he has a .093/.184/.116 triple-slash in June going into Sunday), the decision is a simple one. In short, Johnson will likely be force to take a step back from an everyday role, and become utility man-type player that manager Joe Maddon originally envisioned, or be placed in a lefty-righty platoon with the hot-hitting Joyce.

Obviously, the biggest asset that Myers can bring to the Rays is the power/speed combination, and its something that might quickly help him climb the Rays’ lineup; that said, the top prospect’s arrival does not come without its caveats. With a 24.7 percent strikeout rate in Triple-A in this year, it’s quite possible that expectations on his contact rate and batting average should be measured.

Still, this is someone who has the potential to boost an already-surging offense with another dozen homers or so through the rest of the season, and that kind of upside might just be what the Rays need to go from being a good team to a great one.

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