Wil Myers’ First Road Trip Ends | The Process Report

Wil Myers’ First Road Trip Ends

Evaluating inexperienced hitters at the big-league level differs from evaluating veteran hitters. There’s no record against quality pitching to reference, as the competition level at Triple-A leaves much to be desired. Consider Wil Myers, whose last four Triple-A home runs came against Zack Thornton, Chad Reineke, and Armando Galarraga—three finesse righties with a cumulative 5.24 run average in more than 570 innings in the majors. Factor in the small sample and using numbers accumulated in the majors thus far doesn’t do anyone a whole of good. That means production isn’t the key. Not yet. It’s more about seeing if Myers has the tools and aptitude necessary to succeed.

The answer is yes, of course. Players don’t gain Myers’ reputation as a prospect without exhibiting those attributes throughout their amateur and minor-league careers. Still, one cannot be sure how a hitter will look against big-league pitching until it happens. Myers has passed the eye test so far.

Myers’ raw talent is apparent. The bat speed is there, as is the body and leveraged swing that hint at power. He’s shown an understanding of the strike zone beyond what one might anticipate from a 22-year-old playing his first week of ball in the majors, too. There haven’t been many chases, or sequences where he looked overmatched. But it’s not like Myers is sitting back and letting the opposition prey on him. Pitchers have worked Myers away and within the strike zone aggressively, challenging him to swing and cover the plate, and he’s responded well by employing an all-field approach (entering Sunday four of his seven hits, including both of his extra-base hits, were to right field).

It’s obvious that Myers’ game of choice is fastball, and his taste is refined. He’s not swinging at every fastball, but when he gets one he likes he’s going for it. Sometimes that’s meant swinging underneath high fastballs, or fouling them down the left-field line or straight back. Presumably he’ll hit a few of those sound in due time. And boy, when he does, they should go a long way. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Myers is how the ball seems to fly off the bat. His strength is evident even on pitches he’s not squaring up.

In time the gameplan against Myers will shift toward pitching him inside, something he’s had issues with in the past. He’ll have to prove again, to this new set of pitchers, he can close daylight inside with those long arms of his. He’ll also have to continue to show he can maintain his strike zone and deal with advanced sequencing. There have been some good signs on the front. Flash back to his first hit, against Felix Doubront.

After taking a fastball over the plate for strike one Myers got a changeup. Everyone who’s watched this game for long enough has seen hitters faced with this situation and sequence swing over the top of the pitch, yank it foul, or roll over it for a groundball. Myers stayed back long enough to line it into left field. It’s not as though Doubront had showed the sequence a lot before this at-bat, either: The sequence came in the second inning, and he’d only thrown one other 0-1 changeup thus far, that to Evan Longoria. (Myers’ first career double also merits mention for other reasons.)

There’s one more aspect of Myers’ game worth noting: His running. Whether it’s his natural stride or not, Myers has shown an aggressiveness out of the box on every batted ball. This has led to some closer-than-usual routine plays, including Saturday’s ninth-inning infield hit. Speed may not be a big part of his game, however, he moves better than expected for a fellow his size.

The emphasis on production will increase moving forward. There’s no doubting whether Myers has the foundation of attributes to succeed in the majors. He’ll need to answer some nuanced aspects of hitting over time, but there’s a lot to like here.

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