Kansas City Royals top prospect, and my number 16 overall prospect in the game, Wil Myers is off to a great start this season hitting .346/.419/.746 over 148 Double-A plate appearances with 11 doubles, a triple, 13 homeruns, four stolen bases in as many tries, and nearly an 11% walk rate.
Myers homered twice last night to give him seven homeruns in his past eleven games. Myers is nearly ready offensively but his value could be even higher if he were not playing an outfield corner. He played 13 games in center field last year and has played 19 games there this year, the most of any position. One scout I talked to said he had enough athleticism for the position but needs time out there to learn angles and how to read the bat off the ball.
Remember, Myers didn’t even start playing outfield until last season after playing catcher for the first two seasons of his career. He is still new to the position. But, what stirred up some discussion yesterday was the fact that Myers started the game playing third base two nights ago, albeit for only two innings. And, again, Myers started at third base for the second consecutive night yesterday, a position he had never played in professional baseball. Why exactly would the Royals be doing this now?
I asked the same question to Keith Law on Twitter yesterday and he simply stated: “Why not? Enhances his value.” And he is right. There is no guarantee he plays an average or better center field and third base is more valuable than either corner outfield spot. I also asked Law about Myers’ ability to stick in center field and he said: “Given his size/frame, it would surprise me. Actually like him better at 3b.”
Nate Bukaty asked Royals general manager Dayton Moore about Myers move to third base and if there were any trade implications and he replied by saying: ” [The Royals need to be] proactive at the minor league level, rather than reactive at the Major League level. [Myers is] a plus-defender anywhere you put him.”
Bukaty also tells in his column that Moore sees Myers as the everyday right fielder of the future but wants him to get exposure at the minor league level in case he needs to fill in at all three outfield positions, third base, and he even mentioned first base.
This explains why he only played a hand full of innings each night and only had one defensive opportunity at the hot corner and helped turn a double play. He is not being showcased at the position but simply becoming acquainted with it in case the opportunity arises where his bat may be needed in the lineup and other positions are already filled.
I actually like this way of thinking. What if the outfield is full when Myers is ready for the Big Leagues? Moore did give the struggling Jeff Francoeur a new contract and Alex Gordon is also locked down for a while. Lorenzo Cain, once he returns from injury, looks to be the Royals’ center fielder for at least 3-6 years. Yes, Mike Moustakas is at third but being able to add a position to a star prospect with a star bat cannot hurt.
Myers’ bat is that special. You find a way to get it into the lineup. The fact that Moore is being proactive at the minor league level rather than reactive at the Major League level should make Royals’ fans very happy. At worst, Myers learns a better position and increases his value even if he never has to play the position for the Royals parent club. For the record, I think Myers should stick in center and play every minute he can there to learn the position as quickly as he can so this move made me very skeptical at first glance but Law and Bukaty gave me reason to believe Moore knew exactly what he was doing. Will Wil Myers play third base full-time? Likely, no, but learning the position has increased his value and that is always a good thing.
-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and the Florida Marlins at ESPN’s SweetSpot site Marlins Daily. You can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert. Be sure to follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt