|ESPN.com: Eric Karabell||[Print without images]|
Well, the Tampa Bay Rays finally made the big move on Sunday night that many have been waiting months for: Infielder Ryan Roberts was sent to Triple-A Durham.
Oh, and slugging outfielder Wil Myers, the generally acknowledged top prospect in baseball, is also being called up and is scheduled to make his big league debut Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox.
It’s not surprising that the Rays waited until mid-June to promote the prize piece of the much-discussed offseason trade that sent James Shields, Wade Davis and other parts to the Kansas City Royals. This made sense from a financial aspect, if not performance. The guy was ready last year, but the Royals clearly did not agree. But now that Myers is getting the opportunity with the Rays to start what figures to be a long career manning right field and hitting for power, what should fantasy owners expect the final three-plus months of the season?
At the time the Rays concluded Sunday’s 5-3 loss to, coincidently, the Royals, Myers was already owned in more than half of ESPN’s standard mixed leagues. It will and should keep rising, but as is always the case with hotshot minor leaguers, keep expectations in check. For example, look at what Texas Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar has done with his opportunity in the major leagues; he’s currently near the top of ESPN’s most dropped list after being beloved a month earlier. Myers might be awesome -- or better than that, which is apparently Los Angeles Dodgers stud Yasiel Puig -- but you’re not dropping a top-30 outfielder to acquire him. At least you shouldn’t.
Using colleague Tristan H. Cockcroft’s latest outfield rankings as a guide, Myers barely cracks my personal top-50 outfielders, making him starter worthy in 10- and 12-team formats, but I’m not ready to exalt him over the safer likes of Josh Willingham, Alfonso Soriano, Michael Morse or Nick Swisher. Those fellows also have power, and years of experience and success. I know it doesn’t seem like there’s any chance Myers can fail, but look around at other prospects, it’s not so easy. Myers isn’t likely to hit close to .286 in the majors with his strikeout rate, nor should we expect he’ll steal bases. ESPN’s initial preseason projections for Myers, with a June call-up in mind, were for 340 at-bats, 15 home runs, 52 RBI, five stolen bases and a .262 batting average. Honestly, all those numbers still seem reasonable. He’ll hit for power but otherwise isn’t likely to make a major impact on a fantasy roster in 2013. Willingham, Soriano, Morse and Swisher can do the same thing, and for the purposes of this blog entry, comparing Myers to a stolen base threat like Nate McLouth isn’t fair. It depends on what your team needs, to some degree.
As of now, Myers is my No. 50 outfielder. Puig, who is barely more experienced in the big leagues, is better than that at 42, but still, it’s clear each needs to be owned in standard leagues. Drop the unimpressive Ben Revere for him, but not the injured Carl Crawford. Part with the sputtering Josh Reddick, but not the suddenly rejuvenated B.J. Upton. The following outfielders owned in more than 30 percent of ESPN’s standard leagues are among those I’d cut to get Myers: Marcell Ozuna, Evan Gattis (but that’s a slightly different story, since he’s catcher-eligible), Angel Pagan, Ryan Doumit (also catcher eligible), Revere, Garrett Jones, Kyle Blanks, Andre Ethier (that’s interesting), Mike Carp, Carlos Quentin, Michael Brantley, Reddick and Vernon Wells.
It’s certainly possible that Myers gets off to a monster start, just like Puig did, and this projection looks foolish. Just remember there’s some risk at play, and it’s also feasible that Myers -- and Puig -- cool down significantly. I’d take the chance right now as a free agent or trading a non-top 40 starting pitcher to find out, and obviously the stakes are raised for dynasty formats. Myers is likely to hit more than 30 home runs in a season at some point, perhaps as soon as 2014. For 2013, don’t wait to add him, but as always, be cautious in whom you cut to do so.