Continuing from our season preview of the Tampa Bay Rays earlier today…
When will Wil Myers make his jump to the bigs and join the Tampa Bay Rays permanently?
When the Rays acquired Myers from the Royals this winter as part of a package for James Shields and Wade Davis, the internet freaked out. The Royals dealing Myers to the Rays for pitching help when they arguably needed more to contend in the AL Central just seemed like a ludicrous move. But now, the Rays have their right fielder of the future in Myers, and their fanbase is positively giddy. The question remains though: when will Myers make his major league debut?
Myers is going to be starting the season in the minor leagues. The Rays apparently feel that Myers' game needs to be more well-rounded, specifically his defense and baserunning. Everyone knows Myers can hit the hell out of the ball after he hit 37 homers and posted a .987 OPS in the minors last year as a 21-year old. But just because he can hit doesn't mean he's major league ready quite yet. Myers still struck out 140 times in 2012, He was shifted to the outfield after being drafted as a catcher, and could probably use some refining in right field to take advantage of his range and arm.
The Rays don't even need Myers right off the bat in 2013, either. They're going to go into the season with Ben Zobrist starting the season in right field, while also getting playing time all over the diamond (which is typical of Zobrist). Zobrist was nearly a six win player in 2012, and has continually graded out above average defensively in right field. But Zobrist could be of use to the Rays at shortstop and second base, where the team is going into the year with the potentially volatile Yunel Escobar and the erratic Kelly Johnson. If either of those players struggle, Zobrist will need to likely log more innings in the middle infield and push someone like Luke Scott, Ryan Roberts, or Shelley Duncan into the outfield, since last year's bench outfielders Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer seem to have their stocks dropping among Rays management.
So while there really is no need for the Rays to rush Myers to the majors right now, they may have to if their middle infield struggles. Sure, the Rays could roll with someone like Sean Rodriguez up the middle if Escobar or Johnson struggle, but after a 2012 season that saw him put together just a .507 OPS, he'd really be nothing more than a glove for the Rays. Considering the struggles that Tampa Bay's offense may have in 2013, they're going to need a solid offensive performer…which would be Myers.