KoK Prospect #1: Wil Myers

What better way to celebrate Halloween than to finally “unveil” prospect #1 on the 2010 Kings of Kauffman prospect list?

Let’s disregard the fact that its just about time for our staff to work on the 2011 version of this list. Instead, let’s simply celebrate the wonder and excellence that is Wil Myers.

Who: William Bradford Myers
DOB: 12/10/1990  Thomasville, North Carolina
Position: C
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 190
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Acquired: 2009 Draft (3rd Round)

~ Baseball America #3
~ Diamond Futures #4
~ Royals Review #4
~ The Royal Tower #3
~ John Sickels B
~ Baseball Prospectus #4
~ Scouting Book #6


2009 Idaho Falls (Rk) 80 7 4 2 9 15 0.426 0.488 0.735
2009 Burlington (Rk) 16 0 1 0 0 3 0.125 0.125 0.438
2010 Burlington (A) 294 19 10 10 48 55 0.289 0.408 0.500
2010 Wilmington (A+) 247 18 4 2 37 39 0.346 0.453 0.512

First off let me say that I am absolutely kicking myself for not getting this write up done prior to the start of the 2010 season. As it stands, some people may choose to believe that I put Wil at #1 after I saw how he was doing this season. That could not be further from the truth but I can certainly understand if some of you doubt me. The world is full of distrust, distaste and deceit so really, I understand. It’s my own fault for not having this published in April. I will admit however that it is far easier to justify my assessment after the show he put on during the 2010 season.

My logic prior to the start of the season with my selection of Myers as the top prospect was as follows.

  • He plays catcher and wants to be a catcher at the major league level
  • I firmly believe he will make it to the majors as a catcher and the I believe the Royals organization feels the same way
  • He profiles as a special/impact bat at the major league level
  • He is younger than the system’s other two impact bats Hosmer and Moustakas and is a better all-around athlete
  • He didn’t have “down” or “disappointing” seasons on his resume like Eric and Moose did heading into the season
  • I love some of the Royals left-handed pitching prospects, but history shows that an elite bat behind the plate is far more rare than a true #1 starter/ace pitcher

I’m not going to lie, his April performance had me questioning my ranking but it didn’t sway my belief that Wil would one day become the Royals major league catcher and a cornerstone of the franchise in the process. My confidence wavered only in my ranking and only briefly. He quickly righted his season and earned a promotion to Wilmington. It was in the ultra tough hitting environment that Myers started to make me look really smart (at least he would have if this was published at the start of the season).

Frawley stadium is regarded as one of, if not the toughest place to hit in high-A and Wil hit better at home (0.341/.482/.534) than he did on the road (0.350/.429/.496). If you don’t believe his bat and ability are special by now, then shame on you.

Consider this, between Burlington and Wilmington he collected 141 hits good for a batting average of 0.315 on the season. That in itself is ridiculously impressive for a 19-year old who also happens to be learning the ins and outs of the toughest and most demanding defensive position.

It’s impressive, but what is off the charts for me is the fact that 54 of those 141 hits went for extra bases. He’s not just slapping around singles. He’s squaring the ball and hitting it with authority. When you add in the fact that Myers also drew 85 walks and struck out only 94 times on the season, my excitement about his future, and that of the Kansas City Royals, is completely off the charts. I have never been so excited about a Royals prospect as I am about Wil Myers. That’s not hyperbole, it’s just fact.

As I wrap up this long overdue article, I’ll let you all in on a little secret. Despite the resurgent seasons of Moose and the Hos (who I endlessly defended during the 2009 season on this site) Myers will remain my #1 Royals prospect. The difference, I suspect, is that I won’t be alone in my ranking heading into the 2011 season.

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Kansas City Royals KC MLB Royals Wil Myers

  • Eric

    How has he looked defensively?

    I am undecided as to whether I like him at catcher or not. Not because of his play, but with great hitting catchers, you cannot count on their bat toward the last quarter of the season as they are worn down. Yes, i would love to have a Mauer at catcher, but at the same time, I am wondering is he wouldn’t be better off at 3B or LF to keep his bat in the lineup.

    What do you think about this?

    • http://kingsofkauffman.com Michael Engel

      I’ll toss in my 2 cents and let Wally offer his if he would like to. I’m on the fence too, but I’m getting to where I see the benefit of having a better balance of contributors with a potentially elite catcher.

      An example…

      Let’s say, arbitrarily, that league average rates a 70 for any position. Considering everything, Myers may be a good enough hitter to come out as a 90 in the outfield, but an 80-85 at catcher. But with Myers as an outfielder, you’d have say a 60 at catcher and that 90 in the OF. If you have Myers behind the plate and a league average player in the outfield, it’s more or less a wash, but here’s the thing, you’re more than likely to find a reliable league average outfielder than a passable catcher. Jason Kendall would be like…a 45-50 on this arbitrary scale. Very few teams have one SOLID catching option to play every day and produce within the lineup. I think the Royals would gain an advantage all other spots being equal with Myers behind the plate.

      That being said, yeah, his glove is still coming. I don’t think he’ll ever be renowned for his fielding, but he cut down his rate of passed balls and stayed in kinda sorta reasonable range of a decent caught stealing rate.

    • Wally Fish

      It takes talent to catch no doubt, but a huge part of catching is having the mindset and work ethic to do it. On that note, Myers has made it a point to mention that he wants to catch and enjoys being at the heart of the game and I put a lot of stock in that. He’s got the mindset, the work ethic and the tools to play the position.

      His defense is still a work in progress but he showed improvement this season compared to last. The Royals are not in the same boat with Myers as the Yankees are with Montero.

      Montero is not a good defensive catcher (though you could probably live with his bat damn near anywhere) and will probably never be all that great regardless of what he does. Physically he is limited.

      Myers has no physical limitations and is playing the position full time for the first time in his life. While that makes him raw and unpolished, it also means that his body isn’t as worn down as someone who came up as a catcher. This will allow him to remain productive behind the plate for more years than your average catching prospect coming up.

      From my perspective you let him catch as long an he wants to until:
      a) He becomes a blatant liability behind the plate
      b) Someone else in the system emerges (Sal Perez?) that forces the Royals to move him to another position to strengthen the team in 2 places.

      The data is limited with respect to his progress so all we can really go off is scouting reports of people who have watched him and I haven’t found any report that didn’t see improvement in his skills from 2009 to 2010 behind the plate.

      You can only put so much stock in the defensive numbers for catchers but after allowing 6 passed balls in 11 games last year, he allowed 20 in 75 games this year and it is important to note that he’s catching some guys with seriously ridiculous stuff. That alone is marked improvement.

      I think his bat will be in the KC lineup as a catcher and I don’t think he’s going to embarrass himself back there defensively either once he reaches the majors. In fact, if all the reports of his athletic ability, aptitude, and work ethic are true, I think he could become an above average defensive catcher.

      Yes keeping him at catcher may delay his arrival a bit but to finally have a legit major league catcher I’m willing to give him that time.

      • Wally Fish

        I should also mention that the position of catcher is starting to evolve in the modern game. Just like Cal Ripken Jr started to change the concept of what a SS should be, Joe Mauer (and others) have kicked off that change for guys behind the plate.

        Joe Mauer and Matt Wieters are players that 30 years ago would have never been allowed to stay behind the plate because they were too tall (both are 6’5″). As Mauer was ascending and even after a year or two in the majors the noise about him changing positions persisted. Now you don’t hear so much about that because he gives the Twins something he couldn’t if he played somewhere else. He’s the best player at his position.

        The Twins know this and that’s why he’s never moved. It’s also why the Indians never moved Victor Martinez out from behind the plate. It gave them an advantage to have him catch. Wil Myers will be that same type of guy and very well could become the best catcher in baseball once he reaches the majors and gets some experience.

  • keith

    Myers at #1 FTW. although the top 3 are all super close, there’d be a damn good argument for each one.

  • BrettFan1

    It doesn’t appear that the Royals are as sold on him as a future catcher as you think, they started having him take flyballs in the outfield in preparation for a move next season. Also, every evaluation I have read from an independent source says there is no way he sticks at catcher (that is why Sickels only has him as a B prospect). I, for one, am totally opposed to risking injury to a potentially elite bat by having them try to learn the catcher position. It’s one thing if the player is already a polished catcher when you draft them (Mauer), but Myers definitely doesn’t fit that description. If you want a premium bat at the catcher position, its better to move someone who would only be an average bat at another position (corner OF, SS, 3B, etc.) to catcher based on their tools (arm, body type, etc.). This has worked many times (Martin, Posada, etc) and carries much less risk (the only thing you lose is a potentially average bat at another position with terrible defense). I hope they move Myers to CF and see how quickly he makes it to the bigs with his bat (even if he doesn’t stick in CF and moves to RF). He also doesn’t profile to age well as a catcher (6’3”). There has been an increase in the number of large catchers, but there has also been an increase in the injuries to those same catchers (Sweeney, Mauer, Posada, etc.). It is just hard to stay healthy when you are that big and squatting behind the plate all the time.

    • Wally Fish

      They did have him shagging fly balls, but I think that is more a reflection of the Royals hedging their bets. It’s a smart thing to do in case they have to move him down the road. I take that as a sign that the organization learned something from the way they handled Billy Butler’s position switches which was nothing short of a travesty.

      As far as the rest of your assessment I entirely disagree and we clearly have different sources when it comes to scouting reports. I have not seen a single reputable source that has stated there is “no way” he sticks at catcher and for anyone to put that on a 19-year old that just completed his 1st full year at the position when he has all the tools is foolish.

      Funny that you talk about him playing CF while dismissing him as a catcher. Of all the places he wouldn’t stick, it would be CF in my book. The Royals have too many speed based CF prospects/projects in their system to waste time with Wil at that position.

      Bottom line for me, he played 75 games at C this year and DH the rest of the time he was in the lineup. Piccolo and others in the organization have stated their intent to keep him as a catcher. Wil wants to catch. Until I hear or see otherwise from one of those sources I think it is foolhearty to put too much stock in a guy taking fly balls in the OF.

      Scouting reports get rewritten year to year. If Wil progresses behind the plate the tone will change. If he struggles the tone will change. When Alberto Callaspo was coming up he profiled as a well above average defensive player. Some people went so far as to call him a future gold glove candidate and a “human vacuum cleaner.”

      Oh by the way Sickels latest write-up on Myers ranks him as an A prospect: “If I trusted his defense a bit more, he would rank number one. As it is, even if he ends up in right field I have no hesitation giving him a Grade A rating. The bat should be outstanding.”

  • Wally Fish

    For what is worth point #1: at the end of September, Jeff Zimmerman broke down the positional value in terms of WAR based on his positions and agrees that he should be kept behind the plate as long as possible (http://www.royalsreview.com/2010/9/22/1704334/implications-of-moving-wil-myers). You can find opinions on both sides of the argument in the Royals blogosphere but Jeff Z’s ranks toward the top in my book (and not just because we agree).

    For what it is worth point #2: Bob Dutton’s mention of Myers taking fly balls contains some key points. One is the phrase “possible first step” and the other is that he will start 2011 as a catcher. Sure doesn’t seem to me like a move is immient. Here’s the entire paragraph from Dutton’s piece:

    “Catcher Wil Myers, one of the organization’s top prospects, began taking fly balls as a possible first step to becoming an outfielder. Club officials believe his bat can be big-league ready within a year but acknowledge his catching skills are less advanced. For now, plans call for Myers, 19, to start next season as a catcher.”

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