When Wil Myers joined the Rays organization, the Rays were amazed by his bat speed and power. They knew, though, that he came with two deficiencies, his patience and pitch recognition, and how much he could fix those issues would determine whether he became a star or a disappointment. It took Myers months to master Triple-A and begin to cut down on the strikeouts and take his walks, and only then did the Rays call him up. But in the major leagues, where the pitching is exponentially more advanced than at Triple-A, the process began anew and you had to wonder whether Myers would ever be as good as promised.
Wil Myers certainly had his moments in his first few major league games, most notably his 3 for 4 day with a grand slam against CC Sabathia and the Yankees on June 22nd. But it was clear that a problem was arising when Myers didn’t draw a walk until his 9th game, and sure enough, his early heroics didn’t last. After 20 games, Myers’ numbers were downright mediocre as he managed just a .256/.276/.402 line with 3 doubles, 3 homers, and 13 RBI but also 25 strikeouts against just 3 walks in 87 plate appearances. Not only did his performance slip, but his exorbitant strikeout rate (28.7%) and lack of walks made his short-term future look even bleaker. But the next day, Myers drew his 4th walk, and then everything turned around. Myers has managed a .462/.500/.692 line since then, slamming 3 doubles and 2 homers while driving in 8 in 10 games 44 plate appearances. He has also stolen 4 bases without getting caught. Most impressively, though, is that he has struck out just 6 times while walking four times, making plenty of contact and walking more than he had in his previous 20 games. Myers is finally settling in and beginning that middle of the order bat the Rays knew they were getting when they acquired him.
10 games is a very small sample size, and we have to see how Myers performs as major league pitchers continue to adjust to him and force him to adapt back. But this latest run shows that maybe all Myers needed to put the naysayers to rest was to get a little more comfortable at the major league level. While talent is so often what determines whether a player succeeds or failure, the mental aspect of the game is critical as well. Now the pressure of being the top prospect and potential savior in the Rays organization is gone and Myers feel like just another one of the guys on the team. And with Myers comfortable both in the clubhouse and the batter’s box, that’s when he shows just how talented he has the ability to be.