Nineteen year old Wil Myers went three for seven over the weekend for High-A Wilmington and saw his on-base percentage go down.  You know you are having a good year when a .428 on-base weekend is a negative.

Through his first 33 games in the Carolina League, Myers has posted a rather amazing line of .393/.493/509.    He has done that playing in the same league and same home ballpark that made Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer look like something less than top prospects.    He has virtually the same OPS (.990) in Wilmington as he does away from it (.997) and while Myers has yet to hit a Carolina League home run, he does have 11 doubles already.

Prior to Wil’s promotion to Wilmington, he also tore up the Low-A Midwest League to the tune of .289/.408/.500 with 19 doubles and 10 home runs.   Not bad for a high school draftee in just his first year of full season baseball.   

For the 2010 season combined, Myers has a batting line of .322/.435/.503 with 30 doubles, 10 home runs and 67 walks versus 74 strikeouts.   He has done so playing in the cold spring of Burlington, Iowa and the cavernous ballpark of Wilmington, Delaware.

To provide a little perspective, a nineteen year old Billy Butler playing in the launching pad that was High Desert put up a line of .348/.419/.636 in his High A debut.   As 18 year old rookies in Idaho Falls, the Butler and Myers each ripped the opposition:

  • Butler – .373/.488/.596
  • Myers – .426/.488/.735

Even without adjusting for ballparks, Myers is at least even with Butler, if not already ahead statistically.      While you might be hoping for more from Wil Myers in the future than a Billy Butler-like career, there is nothing wrong with being compared to a guy who at age 21 posted an OPS+ of 108 in the majors.

If you are not a numbers guy, you don’t have to go very far to find quotes from scouts and minor league pundits alike who rave about Myers at the plate.    The raves about Wil’s quick stroke and good plate discipline are many.  Often those glowing reports also come with the coveted ‘projectable raw power’ quote.  Face it, Wil Myers can hit the baseball.   He can hit it so well, that the Royals cannot afford to waste time developing him as a catcher.

As a catcher (a position that he did not play full-time in high school), Myers is athletic and has a good arm, having thrown out 32% of potential base stealers, but is still a long ways from being even an average defender.  One scout was quoted (and I think I stole this from Kevin Goldstein’s column) as saying ‘balls were bouncing back to the screen all the time’.   In 62 games behind the plate this season, Myers has been charged with 19 passed balls and 4 errors.  In a word: YIKES!

Now, as talented an athelete as Myers is, it is not a stretch to envision him becoming a decent defensive catcher over time.   Heck, as an 18 year old rookie, Joe Mauer had 11 passed balls in 19 games.   The next season, Mauer was charged with just 7 passed balls in 81 games and the following year only 5 in 99 games.   Could Myers, given time, become a good defensive catcher?   There is a decent chance, but it will take real time. 

From where Myers is today defensively to where he would need to be to handle a Joakim Soria cut fastball with a runner on third in Yankee Stadium is probably a three year project.   That means restarting 2011 back in Wilmington, a mid-season promotion to Northwest Arkansas and another mid-season promotion in 2012 to Omaha, plus a full season of handling pitchers in AAA in 2013.   At that point you might have a quality major league defensive catcher.

In the alternative, the organization could give Myers duty as Northwest Arkansas’ designated hitter the last week of August and the first week of September, convert him to right field over the winter and have him restart the year as the Naturals’ everyday rightfielder in 2011.  The way Wil has been hitting, he could be in Omaha by July of 2011 and in the majors as early as 2012:  probably two full seasons ahead of when he would likely be ready if the Royals’ keep him at catcher.

Of course, playing in a division with Joe Mauer, we would all love to have the Royals develop a top shelf catcher, both with the bat and with the glove, but is realistic to try to do that with Wil Myers?   Is it worth taking the time to do so and, in the process, lose as much of two seasons worth of Myers’ bat in the majors? 

My opinion is no.   I have come to believe that Myers is, probably by far, the best hitting prospect in the organization.   The time to move Wil Myers to the outfield and fast-track his bat to the majors is right now.