Rays Notes: Wil Myers “The X-Factor”, Tim Beckham’s Potential, Tuesday Lineup

The Rays have the potential to be a very good baseball team in 2013, but there’s one player with the potential to make them even better: top prospect Wil Myers. Over the course of the 2013 season, the biggest question is going to be when Myers is called up. And when he’s called up, that could make all the difference in the AL East. An American League GM was quoted as saying this in an article by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Chen.

“Tampa, they’d probably be my pick right now,” said an AL GM. “You look at the pitching staff and even without Shields, it’s really, really good. Matt Mooreis scary good. Having a healthy Evan Longoria is the key for them. But the X-factor is Myers. They can definitely win without him. But what if he comes up in May or June and starts hitting like Trout or Harper? That’s a potential game-changer in the division.”

It’s extremely dangerous to expect Myers to come up and immediately become a superstar because as we saw with Matt Moore in 2012, even the most talented players often struggle early on. But when Myers is ready and arrives in the major leagues, he will represent a major upgrade to the Rays’ roster and could be the player that gives them an edge in an AL East race that will go right down to the wire. Rays fans have are excited for this year’s Rays squad as it is right now, but adding Myers in the fold in May or June could create an electricity with the Rays team in line with the magical 2008 season, and maybe even more.

Unlike Wil Myers, Tim Beckham has fallen off significantly as a prospect. But despite everything he’s been through, Joe Maddon still believes that a productive major league career is ahead for him talking to Tampa Bay Online’s Roger Mooney.

“I’m really seeing a guy who can be a major league middle infielder, shortstop or second baseman,” Maddon said. . “‘I’m seeing an improved swing. I’m seeing a shorter swing. I’m seeing more of an understanding of what he’s doing at the plate. Consistent offense. That’s what I told him. Everything else he does, he could pretty much play here right now.”

That’s a major qualifier for Beckham’s future- if he doesn’t hit, he’ll be in serious trouble. At this point, there seems to be little chance that Beckham will live into to the lofty expectations placed upon him when he was selected first overall in 2008. But at this point, Beckham has come to grips with the fact that he’s not that player and looks to simply do whatever he can to make the most of the abilities he does have. In 2013, Beckham will likely break into the major leagues- and while he won’t generate nearly as much fanfare as Myers, his ability to still make an impact to the Rays can’t be understated.

From the future to the present, let’s talk about the Rays’ lineup for their spring training game on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins in Ft. Myers. Here it is:

Desmond Jennings, CF
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Evan Longoria, 3B
Matthew Joyce, LF
Yunel Escobar, SS
James Loney, 1B
Leslie Anderson, DH
Wil Myers, RF
Jose Lobaton, C

Matt Moore, SP

Rays fans making the trip to Ft. Myers will get a chance to see six players in the lineup who will see regular playing time for the Rays in 2013, another player in Lobaton in competition to do the same, and then top prospect Myers and Anderson, who has been a revelation for the Rays so far this spring. The player to watch, though, is Moore who was still working his arm strength up in his last start, sitting more at 90-91 MPH, and we’ll have to see where his velocity in this game. The Rays are bringing out quite a few of the big guns for this game, and hopefully they can continue to make progress with the regular season now under a month away.

Topics: Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays, Tim Beckham, Wil Myers

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