A Glimpse at the Future


On Friday night I got a chance to go check out the Royals’ Double-A affiliate, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The Naturals were in town for a weekend series against the Springfield Cardinals and I was unlucky enough to miss Royals’ prospects Jake Odorizzi, who pitched on Wednesday night, and Salvador Perez,  who was called up to Omaha on the same day. Thus, I was forced to settle for Wil Myers, who I view not only as the Royals’ best hitting prospect, but the best prospect left in the system.

Myers’ numbers have slightly regressed this season in adjusting to Texas League pitching, but is still regarded by many as the coveted prospect in a loaded system. In the triple slash category Myers is .253/.348/.357. Not great, but also not terrible considering that he has a .348 OBP as a 20 year-old in Double-A. His BB/K ratio of 37/66 is concerning, especially with only three home-runs, however many of Myers’ struggles can be attributed to his injury trouble with a knee infection earlier this season.

The scouting report on Myers from ESPN’s Keith Law is as follows:

"Myers has superb hand-eye coordination and a very pretty, classic swing from the right side. He can start out in the bucket at times and needs to keep his front side firm, but the swing itself is sound and both his hip rotation and weight transfer are good. He has been a catcher so far in the Royals’ system, but the team tried him out in right field during instructional league and were encouraged by how he played. Because of the injury risk associated with catching and the fact that catchers just don’t get as many at bats each year as players at other positions do, Myers’ bat may actually make him too good to leave at catcher. The Royals haven’t made any firm decisions on his position, but wherever he plays he’s headed for stardom."

Law is not a fan of the Royals moving Myers’ to right field and moved him from his eighth overall prospect to 14 in his latest rankings, but is still very big on his bat. One game is never a good sample size, but it is generally a good gauge on feeling out a player’s general tools. And everything Law mentioned in his scouting report of Myers was consistent with what I saw out of him on Friday night, in spite of what the numbers might suggest this season. He is incredibly patient at the plate—as is OBP would suggest— he drew two walks and had a single in a 1-2 effort at the plate.

Myers has a natural, silky-smooth swing that is a thing of beauty to see in person. It was a shame that I wasn’t able to see more of it in a night where he wasn’t given much to hit, yet still reached base three times.

Defensively, Myers didn’t receive much action, but when given the opportunity, he flashed some spectacular athletic ability. He made an excellent sliding grab to end a treacherous sixth inning for the Naturals and pitcher Will Smith, in which they gave up 7 runs. Myers has a great arm and covers a lot of ground in right field, but still appears to be raw. However, he has plenty of time to polish his skills at the position and I don’t expect it to be a tough transition considering his natural athletic ability.

I wish I could offer more of an amateur scouting report on Myers, but like I said, it is difficult to take very much from one game. However, for what it is worth, he appears to be as good as advertised despite the diminished offensive numbers this season. I really believe he will be the Royals best pure hitter once he gets his feet wet in the big leagues and I get goosebumps thinking about the potential of him playing alongside Alex Gordon and Bubba Starling someday.

There wasn’t much else noteworthy outside of Myers on Friday night, other than Smith’s decent outing turning to crap when he self-imploded with a 3-2 lead in the 6th inning–giving up 7 runs without recording a single out. The scouting report on Smith seems to be spot on. Good command, average fastball, good curveball and a changeup that is still developing. When Smith ran into trouble on Friday night, it wasn’t because he couldn’t find the strike zone, it was because his secondary stuff wasn’t fooling anyone and his fastball was getting crushed.

To me, Smith is still a decent prospect, as he is only 21 years old, but I don’t see him as anything more than a back end of the rotation guy, which the Royals seem to have a surplus of.

Other quick tidbits: 

  • Christian Colon has some pop in his bat, which surprised me, as he is a small guy (my buddy thought he was a bat boy) and promptly hit a home run in the 1st inning to continue his recent power surge. I didn’t get to see too much from him at shortstop, so I can’t comment on the prospects of him eventually moving to second base. However, it’s worth note that he doesn’t look like your prototypical major league shortstop in terms of size and I imagine that is something that would have to factor into his supposed limited range at the position.
  • Derrick Robinson has completely regressed as a prospect. He was never a big-time prospect in the system, but he was a guy that a year ago, many viewed as the team’s future center fielder. Robinson is a good fielder, but has poor plate discipline and although he is very fast, he just isn’t a very good hitter. Obviously, Dayton Moore and the Royals felt the same way, as they acquired center fielder Lorenzo Cain (who despite the opinion of some, is not a bigger and slower version of Jarrod Dyson) in the Zach Greinke trade before the season and drafted center fielder Bubba Starling with their first pick in the 2011 draft.

Although the Naturals lost the game it was a fun night for me, as it was my first look at one of the club’s young, budding stars. Let’s hope his development speeds up, however, as it appears the Royals are content to hold on to Francouer for another season and to my non-expert eye, Myers already has better plate discipline than him.

PS: I’ve always viewed the Cardinals as an elitist-minded organization, but I was shocked to see beer prices at $7 at a minor-league game/venue.  Correct me if I’m wrong, as I’ve only been to a few other minor-league games, but this is a bit high, no?