The 2015 season was a tough one in San Diego for almost all parties involved. The team struggled to mesh after an offseason filled with roster turnover. Almost all the new additions did not pan out, and former manager Bud Black found himself without a job before the All Star Break. There were some breakouts, including pitcher Tyson Ross and infielder Yangervis Solarte, but as a whole, the Padres couldn’t piece it together.
This offseason has been a different story. While A.J. Preller and company have once again been active this offseason, the goal seems to be different from last offseason. Rather than collecting top talent for a playoff push, the Padres traded away several key players, including Craig Kimbrel, Joaquin Benoit, Yonder Alonso, Jedd Gyorko, and a few others. This year’s team will once again look a lot different from the previous year’s iteration.
With many new faces in town, the Padres definitely have quite a few players to watch, including new additions Jabari Blash, Jon Jay, Alexei Ramirez, among others. Despite all these additions, the most interesting player to watch for in 2016 is a player that was already on the Padres in 2015. That player missed a majority of the season last year and is looking to finally take the steps on the path to superstardom. That player is right fielder turned center fielder turned first baseman Wil Myers.
Myers has simultaneously had an easy career and a difficult one. First drafted in the third round (91st overall) in the 2009 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals, Myers is already on his third major league team, despite not yet playing in over 100 games in a season so far in his career. After spending his first several years in the Royals minor league system, Myers was traded, along with Jake Odorizzi, Patrick Leonard, and Mike Montgomery, to the Tampa Bay Rays in return for James Shields, Wade Davis, and Elliot Johnson.
After spending the first few months of his time in the Rays organization in the minor leagues in 2013, Myers saw a June call up. He excelled in his short time with the Rays that year, slashing .293/.354/.478 with a wRC+ of 129 in just 88 games on his way to the Rookie of the Year award. The Rays had the future star they so craved, and it appeared Myers was poised to become one of the top players in all of baseball.
That is, until the injury bug hit. On the last day of May in the following season, Myers collided with outfielder Desmond Jennings, injuring his wrist. Due to on and off problems with his wrist throughout the 2014 season, Myers ended up playing in only 87 games that year, slashing only .222/.294/.320 and finishing the season with exactly 0 fWAR. Following the season, Myers found himself traded once again, this time to the San Diego Padres in a three team deal that netted the Rays Jake Bauers, Rene Rivera, and Burch Smith from the Padres, as well as Steven Souza and Travis Ott from the Washington Nationals, with the Nationals receiving both Joe Ross and Trea Turner from the Padres.
With a mostly lost 2014 season, Myers found himself on his third team. Despite high expectations in San Diego, he once again faced all sorts of wrist injury problems, playing in only 60 games for the Padres in 2015. Myers looked good when he was playing, slashing .253/.336/.427 with a wRC+ of 116, but he was once again unable to stay healthy.
To this point in his career, Myers has shown flashes of brilliance overshadowed by constant injuries and a failure to meet somewhat overwhelming expectations. At one point, he was the #4 prospect in all of baseball following the the 2012 season, and the #1 prospect in the Rays system during that same time. Great things were expected of Myers before his injuries took him on the field.
With all this in mind, Myers may be finally ready for a breakout season in 2016. It’s hard to trust him given his injury issues, but if he is finally healthy, as he appears to be, Myers may be able to reach the potential that is so often mentioned from his time as a top prospect.
Back when he was first called up in Tampa Bay, Myers was viewed by many to be the hands down best hitting prospect in all of baseball. Obviously the likes of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were no longer prospects at that point, but that is still great company to be in. In 2013, prior to his big league call up, Myers was given a 60 grade hit tool and a 70 grade power tool, which are some of the best grades a hitter can get, especially for his power.
As a prospect, Myers was seen as having enormous power potential, a great approach at the plate, as well as outstanding bat speed. The only thing that was really set to derail Myers from bringing it all together was injury, and that’s just what ended up happening. Even so, if Myers injury problems really are behind him, all the potential discussed three or four years ago is still there. Myers may be slightly older than he was then, but at only 25 years old, he is still young enough to develop into the player we all thought he could be.
Following his wrist surgery last year, Myers slashed .208/.351/.364 in 94 plate appearances after returning from his injury. He also had a wRC+ of 109, an ISO of .156, with a wOBA of .324. Those numbers are not over the top, but an obvious step forward for a player who missed much of the season with injury. The Padres are now hoping Myers can build off that late season performance and put it altogether in 2016.
For the San Diego Padres, 2016 season is an important year in their organization’s development. For Wil Myers, 2016 may finally be the year he breaks out and realizes his true potential. We don’t yet know what kind of player Myers can be until he players a full season. Maybe 2016 will finally be that year. The San Diego Padre organization and fans alike are certainly hoping so.