Rays: The Natural Arrives — Wil Myers begins Spring Training
PORT CHARLOTTE — Ever since the Tampa Bay Rays traded James Shields for him, most of the hype revolving around the team has been based around outfielder Wil Myers.
The highly touted prospect arrived the Spring Training on Thursday, giving the organization a chance to see the newest budding star and a big part of the future of the franchise.
At least after Day 1, Myers didn’t disappoint, blasting about a half dozen homers.
“It was a lot of fun, I was really anticipating it this morning,” Myers said. “I couldn’t really sleep last night; I was pretty excited about it, so it was a good day.”
Some of the long balls easily cleared the fence, like one that landed in the water in left-center field. Others just barely made it over, like the one that Sean Rodriguez had in his glove but couldn’t hold onto, but the impression was made.
“That’s some pop right there,” Rodriguez said. “… He hasn’t played in the big leagues yet, but I can see where Andrew and their excitement was when they picked him up. I can definitely see that.”
From a mechanical standpoint, Myers has also caught the eye of hitting coach Derek Shelton.
“The thing that’s the most impressive is the bat speed,” Shelton said. “You can see it not only when he’s hitting on the field but even off the tee. You don’t see very many people that generate that much bat speed.”
That bat speed is in exclusive company when it comes to Tampa Bay as well.
“It’s near the top,” Shelton said. “You don’t have that sound and see that bat speed in an everyday player.”
Myers immediate future with the big league club is still unknown, but he does feel confident that he’s ready to take the next step.
“As a player, I feel like I’m Major League-ready, but that’s not really for me to decide,” Myers said. “That’s up to the front office.”
He was a part of the Royals’ camp last season, but had the unfamiliar disfortune of not only being cut, but not even making it through the first round.
“It was the first time,” Myers said. “It was kind of different.”
Manager Joe Maddon said he prefers to keep young players in the Minors to start the year, citing rookie sensations Mike Trout and Bryce Harper a year ago, as well as Rays slugger Evan Longoria.
Other factors such as service time, which impacts arbitration eligibility down the line, also play a role, but the most important thing for Maddon is seeing how well Myers reacts to the culture around the team.
“A lot of it has to just do with observation, conversation and also what other people are saying — like players and coaches — to try to determine when he is actually ready,” Maddon said. “To me, that is the more pertinent part of this whole Spring Training evaluation.”
“I just think that it’s easier for a player with that kind of expectation level that he gets some time under his belt on the Minor League level,” he added.
But when the call does eventually come, Myers will likely be a regular in the lineup.
“If you bring a kid up that’s a big part of your future, you play him,” Maddon said. “… Guys like that, when you bring them up, you play them.”
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