Power among the many tools Myers possesses
It is totally understandable that Rays fans want to see outfielder Wil Myers playing on the Major League club.
If it seems we've been hearing about him for years, it's because we have.
Myers began playing professional baseball in 2009, and he's been highly touted since he became a pro at the age of 18. Perhaps a bit more patience will be required. After all, he's only 22.
Myers attended Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, N.C. A right-handed hitter, he was outstanding in high school, winning All State honors in his freshman year. In his senior season, he hit .532, with 14 home runs and 41 RBIs. He played both third base and catcher, even pitched some, and gained the attention of pro scouts.
Instead of playing collegiately, he signed a contract with the Royals, who selected him as a catcher/third baseman in the third round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Myers gave the Royals' brass and baseball fans a hint of what was to come when he hit a combined .369 with five homers and 18 RBIs in just 96 plate appearances for Rookie league teams in Idaho Falls and Burlington. It was a sign that Myers' hitting tools were special.
As Myers progressed through the Kansas City organization, his reputation as a game-changing hitter increased. In an effort to protect him from the rigors of being a pro catcher, the Royals converted him to the outfield in the 2011 season at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He played all three outfield positions, and he also had his least productive season to that point, hitting only .254, 61 points less than he did during his sophomore season at Class A Burlington and Class A Advanced Wilmington.
I got my first scouting look at Myers in 2011, when he played in the Arizona Fall League.
Myers played in 23 games, 20 of them as a right fielder. In the other three, he served as a designated hitter. He was disciplined at the plate, showing hitting mechanics that were advanced for a 20-year-old.
Myers hit .360 with four homers and 18 RBIs and finished among the league leaders in hitting, but one factor concerned me: He hit .403 against left-handed hitters but only .143 when facing righties.
I saw Myers again in Spring Training over the last two years, but my best and most recent looks came this past April, when I scouted him during a series at the Rays' Triple-A home in Durham.
At the time of my arrival, Myers had not yet hit a home run. That was unusual, as he hit 37 the previous season in 591 plate appearances for Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha combined. That drop in home run production had some followers concerned.
Finally, on April 20, he sent a pitch over the wall in dead center for his first homer of 2013.
At Triple-A Durham so far this season, Myers is hitting .259, with six home runs, 31 RBIs and three stolen bases. In 174 at-bats, he has struck out 54 times.
But lately he's really been turning on the hitting and power tools. In the last week alone, he raised his average and added to his home run total. He's currently on a roll.
At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Myers is strong and well proportioned. He has little room for growth, but he still may add some upper body strength.
Myers showed a good deal of power in his early years in the Royals organization, and his hands and arms do a great deal of the work in his hitting mechanics. His strong hands and wrists are very quick through the ball. I saw pitchers trying to keep the ball away from him, but he had little trouble reaching outside pitches.
His bat speed is another major asset. He gets his hands in hitting position nicely and isn't fooled too often by breaking pitches. His quick reactions and good hand-eye coordination are important components of his offense. He is a natural hitter and gets his best results when he doesn't lengthen his swing to press for home runs.
When I saw him in Durham, he hit a large number of foul balls to the screen directly behind him. That means he was just missing squaring up on the barrel of the bat. His swing was more aggressive, and he didn't take as many pitches as I'd seen during my previous observations. The slightest adjustment in timing may provide the difference between a screaming line drive and the foul balls I saw.
Given his outstanding week at the plate, Myers might be making those adjustments.
I would like to see Myers put more emphasis on using his lower body in his swing. I think he could generate more power if his legs played a more prominent role in his hitting.
Defensively, Myers is making strides. Playing exclusively in right field, he needs to continue to work on reading the ball off the bat and taking good routes.
Myers clearly has an ability to steal bases thanks to his good first-step quickness and average speed, but he hasn't attempted many in the past two seasons.
I believe Myers will continue to develop as a hitter. His raw power is obvious. I believe that he is feeling some pressure from the trade in trying to uphold high expectations.
No exact formula exists as the "right" time for a promotion to the Major League roster. It is better to allow a player to complete his development before he faces the high-quality pitching of big league baseball.
When the Rays believe Myers' development is complete, he will provide a nice variety of effective tools.
It is understandable if Rays fans are getting more excited. Myers is really heating up.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.