Results tagged ‘ Tampa Bay Rays ’

Should Wil Myers Begin 2013 In the Minor Leagues?

Although Spring Training games have yet to begin, the current speculation is that Rays’ phenom Wil Myers will start 2013 with AAA Durham, instead of with the big league club, down in Tampa, regardless of how he performs over the course of the next month. This leaves many people wil-myers-landov2(myself included) to ask the question: Is this the right decision for Myers?

I’m not 100 percent sold on the idea.

This past season, before getting traded from the Royals to the Rays, in December, Myers batted .314 with 37 home runs and 109 RBI’s, between AA North West Arkansas and AAA Omaha. The expectation was for Myers to receive a September call up from the Royals, however, that didn’t end up happening. Leaving many people scratching their heads.

In response to not calling up Myers, the Royals made the statement that they didn’t feel he was big league ready. While that might be true, I still don’t understand why they didn’t give him a shot for the last few games of the season, especially with them not being in play off contention; just as I’m not fully understanding the Rays’ logic with Wil Myers, going into the 2013 season.

According to Rays’ manager Joe Maddon, the decision to keep Myers down in the minors, to begin the season, is merely a “baseball decision”, that would give Myers a greater chance of success once he makes the transition to the major league level, sometime this season. Maddon is known for preferring this type of strategy, as his recent comments would suggest:

“I just think that it’s easier for a player with that kind of expectation level to get some time under his belt on a Minor League level, get it rolling, get the feel going, when you know it’s going well, then walk into a big league situation. Not as difficult as opposed to leaving a camp with all this expectation, all this hype then having to match up to that on a Major League level right out of the chute.”

I sort of understand where Maddon is coming from, though I still have to disagree.

While it’s vastly debated as to whether or not Maddon’s approach with Myers is the correct one, there’s no argument when it comes to if Myers has enough natural talent, and potential, to perform at the big league level. Anyone can see that, just by watching the guy play. No one more so than Rays’ hitting coach, Derek Shelton, who, after day one of Rays Spring Training, had this to say about Myers, and his talent level:

“The thing that’s the most impressive is the bat speed. The way the ball comes off his bat….You don’t see very many people who generate that kind of bat speed….It’s loud. It’s a different sound….You don’t hear many guys that can create that sound….it’s exciting to see.”

After reading all of what Shelton had to say, combined with my personal observations of Wil Myers’, and his stats from 2012, if it were up to me, I’d choose to let him loose to see what he can do at the major league level. Worst-case scenario, Myers doesn’t produce, and the Rays could then decide to either work through it or send him back down to the minors. But there’s always the possibility that Myers could hold his own, picking up where he left off in 2012, absolutely tearing it up out of the gate.

To me, the mere chance that Myers could be an impact player for the Rays to begin the season is enough to give him a shot. Playing in the somewhat difficult American League East, if the Rays want a chance to win their division, I’m not sure they can afford even a few weeks without Myers.

Q and A With Jake Hager

Jake Hager was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 1st round of the 2011 draft. Since the draft, Hager has played in a total of 161 games, over eafdf6_5a6a7fdd8ce7a4ab63d32eeb5875a851_jpg_srz_390_595_85_22_0_50_1_20_0the course of two successful seasons, batting a combined .277 with 14 home runs and 89 RBI’s.

Last season alone, Hager batted .281 with 10 home runs and 72 RBI’s, including an OBP of .345, with Single-A Bowling Green. In addition to his consistency at the plate, Hager stole a total of 17 bases, showing his ability to steal a base if necessary–speed being one of the main things Hager plans to work on in the coming season.

If Hager can continue to produce the same kind of numbers, combined with his incredible work ethic, he should be able to make it to the major leagues fairly quickly. He certainly has the talent, but it will come down to whether he can keep up the performance at the plate, over the next few years. However, looking back at Hager’s professional career thus far, and even into High School, that shouldn’t be a problem, as posting great stats seems to be his specialty.

Jake Hager–prospect in the Rays organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?

I started playing ball when I was about 5 years [old]. My dad inspired to me to play the game. He always brought me outside to play catch or swing the bat. Once we started tee ball I loved it ever since. Best decision I have ever made.

2.) Who was your favorite player growing up? Why?

My favorite player growing was Cal Ripken Jr. He was my favorite player because of how humble he was and how much he loved to play the game. He was a great all around player and really fun to watch. 

3.) You were drafted by the Rays in the 1st round of the 2011 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?

The draft process was amazing. Seeing all the scouts from each team come to your house and talk about your future was a lot of fun. The Rays ending up taking [me] which I had a great feeling they were because they were scouting me pretty heavy. Then on draft day–I was at my house with all of my friends and family–they called me before the draft started and said they were going to take me at 31. Then at the 30th pick they called my dad saying they were taking me at 32. We all went crazy and then once Bud [Selig] said my name it was the greatest feeling in the world.

4.) Being drafted out of high school, what’s the biggest difference you noticed between that and pro ball in your first few games, in 2011?

The biggest difference for me was the speed of the game–ten times faster than high school ball. Seeing 90-94 everyday was a huge difference, and the ball coming off every bat was just way different!

5.) What do you feel went well in 2012? What do you feel you need to work on for 2013?

Once I got my swing and my new stance down, everything started going great from there. Seeing the ball a lot better and swinging at better pitches helped me out a lot. I feel like [for] 2013 I just need to work on my speed more than anything. I am always working on my swing and defense, but I’m going to concentrate more on my speed.

6.) Is there any player you model your game after, or do you just try to do your own thing?

I honestly just try to do my own thing. I don’t worry about who I should be like or anything, I just want to be the player I can be.

7.) When’s the first time someone asked for your autograph? Oddest thing you’ve ever signed?

The first time somebody asked for my autograph was my best friend’s little cousin, when I was high school. That was the first ever ball I had signed. The oddest thing I have ever signed is [a] drawn picture of me in a Rays outfit!

8.) Favorite food?

My favorite would have to be grilled chicken right off the grill.

9.) Favorite TV show?

My favorite TV show is ‘Dexter’.

10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?

To always work hard and don’t let anybody get in the way of your dream. Stay humble and work for your dream.

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Big thanks to Jake Hager for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on twitter: @JakeHager1

My Next MiLB Game To Feature Rays’ Evan Longoria

More and more reports continue to come out stating that Tampa Bay Rays’ superstar third basemen, and three-time All-Star, Evan Longoria, will continue his rehab assignment with the Durham Bulls until at least next week. This of course thrills me, as I’m set to attend tomorrow night’s game in Durham.

Up until this point I was hesitant to blog about the possibility of Longoria for fear that it would be all for naught. Now I can say with 99% certainty that I’ll have the pleasure of watching Longoria do his thing tomorrow night versus the Gwinnett Braves. (Longoria will serve as the Bulls’ DH.)

It’s a noteworthy day any time a player as good as Longoria comes to town; even if it’s just for a few days. Guys like him fill the stands and give some pizazz to what might of otherwise been just another ordinary minor league baseball game. It’s a load of fun for fans of all ages.

As with any time a star player comes to the area, my main goal for tomorrow night is to get an autograph from Evan Longoria. He signed for the fans on Thursday night, so I don’t see why he wouldn’t a couple of days later. He seems like a cool guy. I’m sure he will. Or at least, I hope he will.

Whether or not I blog about tomorrow’s game is yet to be decided. I probably won’t. But if something crazy happens, or I’m just in the blogging mood, I might decide to. You’ll just have to wait and see….

My Thoughts On the Latest MLB News

I wanted to post a blog entry, as it’s come to my attention that I haven’t done so in 6 days. (Sorry about that.) I’m not going to focus on any one topic, or any particular team, but just a few of the latest things that have happened in MLB since the last time I blogged:

JASON VARITEK RETIRES

First it was Tim Wakefield, now it’s Jason Varitek. Two guys who have been with the Boston Red Sox for years, have called it quits within the past two weeks.

Varitek, who officially announced his retirement in a press conference yesterday, spent his entire 15 season career with Boston. Varitek ends his career just seven home runs shy of 200. While he wasn’t able to hit the 200 home run mark, he was able to crack the 1,000 hit mark, as he recorded 1,307 in his career.

Varitek was an icon in Boston, and was able to accomplish a lot in his career. Here’s just a few of the impressive attributes Varitek has:

  • Only player to play in Little League World Series, College World Series, MLB World Series, Olympics, and World Baseball Classic.

  • Played in more post season games than any other player in Red Sox history.

  • Only player in MLB history to catch four no-hitters.

Truly remarkable stuff.

INJURIES, INJURIES, AND MORE INJURIES

A.J. Burnett fractured his orbital bone on a fould tip while bunting during batting practice yesterday. Burnett, who underwent surgery earlier today to repair the damage, is expected to be out for 8-12 weeks.

This is a huge blow to the Pittsburgh Pirates, as Burnett was due to make the start on opening day. Now, with the injury, the Pirates will be forced to rethink their options. Although they have a few other decent pitchers in the rotation, you know they have to be disappointed, as they just acquired Burnett from the Yankees in return for a couple of minor leaguers. It doesn’t help the Pirates if Burnett’s on the bench.

After being hit by a fastball the fear by the Tampa Bay Rays was that Evan Longoria’s hand would take time to heal. Considering the fact that he was the major reason they made the play offs in the first place last year, that obviously wouldn’t be good news.

Luckily, after an x-ray, there are no broken bones, and Longoria’s hand swelling should decrease by Monday, which is when the Rays hope to have him ready to go for Spring Training.

It wasn’t looking very likely for Grady Sizemore that he’d make the Opening Day roster due to a back sprain, but after surgery was performed today, it is certain. Sizemore is expected to miss 8-12 weeks.

It’s a real shame for both the Cleveland Indians and Sizemore. The poor guy can’t seem to catch a break. Plagued by injuries over the past couple of years, Sizemore has gone from “future hall of famer”, to present day flop. Hoperfully, once his surgery scars have healed, Grady can get back to playing the way he used to, but unfortunately, as Kevin Millar put it, “back injuries are hard to come back from.”

MLB ADDS EXTRA WILD CARD

When I first heard that an extra wild card was going to be added to each League this season I wasn’t a big fan of the idea. Not because I’m not a fan of change–change is a good thing, sometimes–but for the fact that I really didn’t understand it all. To tell you the truth, I still don’t understand it completely, but as I begin to slowly understand what’s going to happen this season, I’m starting to become a fan of the idea.

Since I’m not 100 percent sure of how things are going to work, and how the play off schedule is going to work, the best thing I can do is tell you to go take a look at the EXCELLENT article detailing everything you’d ever want to know about the extra wild cards: CLICK HERE

SPRING TRAINING GAMES BEGIN

Spring Training games have already begun, however the first MLB Network broadcasted game isnt’ until Saturday at 1:05. The game, which features the New York Yankees taking on the Philadelphia Phillies, is sure to be exciting. Not only is it the first time you’re getting to see Jim Thome play first base, but you’ll also get to see how A-rod does. Whether Rodriguez has a come back year, or a repeat year, has a major impact on how the Yankees do this year. I for one, think that Rodriguez is going to do well this year, but it’s one of things you can’t really predict.

ALL PLAYER AUDIO MLB SPRING TRAINING GAME

If you don’t find this cool, you might want to check yourself for a pulse. Coming up on Wednesday March 7th, at three o’clock eastern standard time, MLB Network is going to broadcast an all player audio game, seeing the Cleveland Indians take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. In other words, no announcers doing play by play. Instead, every player and upmire will be mike’d up, and you’ll have to use their audio to guide yourself through the game. I think it’s an awesome idea. Very cool stuff.

UPCOMING ENTRIES

This time of year is when blogging gets exciting. During the off season there were a bunch of big trades and signings to talk about, but now with Spring Training kicking off, the topics to blog about are endless. That’s good news for you the reader. The more I have to blog about, the more often I’ll post a new entry, and thus the more you have to read.

I’m going to do my best to keep up with what’s going on around MLB. I really don’t have anything planned, except for one blog entry that I’m working on at the moment. Friday or Saturday of next week I’m going to post my 2012 MLB predictions blog entry. It’ll include how I think each team will place in their divisions, all the way down to who I feel will win the World Series. So be sure to check back for that.

Here’s what I’d suggest to you. If you’re not already, go ahead and enter you email address, and click the follow button, on the right side of the screen. Doing so ensures that you’ll never miss a word of what I have to say about what I’m thinking, as you’ll recieve an email with a link every time a new entry is posted. It’ll make it a lot easier then having to check back in every few days.

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