The Wil Myers era has officially begun in Tampa Bay.
With the announcement of Myers' call-up (via ESPN) from Triple-A Durham, the Rays are adding one of baseball's top prospects to the team on the eve of four consecutive series against American League playoff contenders.
Tampa Bay acquired the 22-year-old outfielder last offseason in a blockbuster trade with the Kansas City Royals. By surrendering a 200-inning ace in James Shields, the Rays received six years of team control with Myers, potentially cementing the middle of their order for at least a half decade alongside Evan Longoria.
While there's no guarantee of any prospect excelling in the bigs, Myers looks like the real deal, a future All-Star and a legitimate power threat in the middle of Tampa Bay's lineup.
After he hit .286/.356/.520 in Triple-A, Tampa Bay made the decision to bring him up, but it's likely that the Super 2 arbitration cutoff threshold played a bigger role in the delay than the recent hot streak (347/.379/.747 over last 22 games) he's been on in the minors.
Although offense hasn't been a particular problem for the Rays over the last 50-plus games, adding the potential of Myers to the lineup can only help offset their pitching issues and the inevitable regression from some of their top offensive performers to date.
Over last month, Rays are 2nd to Red Sox in AL in runs. Will that lower the pressure on Wil? http://t.co/BAjGCPchZU— Danny Knobler (@DannyKnoblerCBS) June 17, 2013
Despite a pitching staff that has pitched to an uncharacteristic 6.58 ERA in June, Tampa Bay is surviving and thriving in the AL East due to an offense that has scored 333 runs this season. Through 69 games, Joe Maddon's lineup is averaging 4.8 runs per contest.
As David Price nears a rehab assignment and return to the mound, expect the pitching to return to respectability. On the other hand, expecting Kelly Johnson (10 home runs) and James Loney (.361 OBP) to be standout offensive performers all summer is fool's gold.
Thus, Tampa Bay is summoning Myers to be a boost before it becomes a necessity. While his bat seems like a luxury at the moment, it could be vital down the stretch.
From the jump, expect Myers to play and thrive against opposing left-handed pitching. During his first week in the show, Tampa Bay will go up against AL East lefties such as Felix Doubront, Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia.
Defense in right field, baserunning and plate discipline are still works in progress for the prospect, but it's hard to argue against his power from his first at-bat in the majors. The production will be there, but expect some strikeouts during his first few plate appearances. Since 2011, Myers has slugged .731, .554 and .520, respectively, during his Double and Triple-A days, but he's also struck out in at least 20 percent of his plate appearances at both higher levels of the minor leagues.
I don't want to lump a bunch of high expectations on Wil. We'll put him in the bottom part of the order and let him play, just be a Ray.— Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon) June 16, 2013
Will Myers live up to the hype for Tampa?
If Myers' name is penciled in to the bottom of the order or in the designated hitter slot during his first few weeks, don't be surprised. Currently, the Rays lineup features performing hitters and versatile fielders, including second baseman Ben Zobrist, who are more capable outfielders than Myers at this juncture.
But as the weeks and months go on, expect Myers to assume a bigger role as an outfielder and middle-of-the-order bat for Maddon's team.
The future is bright for Myers in Tampa. In fact, expecting him to morph into a right-handed version of what Jay Bruce has become for the Cincinnati Reds isn't out of the question.
Rays general manager Andrew Friedman nabbed a future star last winter.
Now baseball fans get to watch him in Tampa.