Prospects Myers, Odorizzi excited to join Rays
Shields, Davis bid fond farewell to Tampa Bay after trade to Kansas CIty
ST. PETERSBURG -- Wil Myers got an odd present Sunday night, a day before celebrating his 22nd birthday.
Myers, the highly regarded outfield prospect -- along with right-hander Jake Odorizzi, left-hander Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard -- was traded by the Royals to the Rays for right-handers James Shields and Wade Davis and a player to be named.
"It's been quite a birthday, I'm excited about it," said Myers during a conference call Monday afternoon. "I got a phone call last night around 10:30, our assistant GM just telling me what was going on with the situation. I'm definitely excited to join Tampa Bay. It's going to be a little weird going away from the Royals since they gave me this great opportunity. But I'm definitely excited about the opportunity ahead for me."
Myers began the 2012 season with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and earned a May 16 promotion to Triple-A Omaha. He hit a combined .314 with 37 home runs and 109 RBIs.
MLB.com rated Myers as the No. 3 prospect in the Minor Leagues after his 2012 campaign. The North Carolina native has hit .303 with 64 home runs, 259 RBIs, a .395 on-base percentage and a .522 slugging percentage over four Minor League seasons after being selected by Kansas City in the third round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
When asked about Myers on the same conference call, Odorizzi spoke about the player that enticed the Rays to make the deal.
"Probably everything you've heard [about him] is pretty close to true," Odorizzi said. "I've played with him the past three years and he's incredible to watch. He's an exciting player, gap-to-gap power. He's a lot better defensively than most people make him out to be. ... He's got a strong arm, covers a lot of ground for a big guy and the hitting speaks for itself."
Whether Myers makes Tampa Bay's Major League roster out of Spring Training remains to be seen. One thing is for certain, he's not going to spend a lot of time fretting about something he can't control.
"I just want to go out every day during Spring Training and just do my best," Myers said. "Let the front office make those decisions."
When asked if he thought he was ready to make the jump to the Major Leagues, he continued to sound humble.
"Obviously as a player, you want to be confident in your ability and know that you think you're ready for the big leagues," Myers said. "But it's not my decision to make. Just leave it in the hands of the front office."
Being a central figure in a "blockbuster" deal did catch Myers' attention, though.
"That lets me know Tampa Bay is excited to get me and also the other prospects from the Royals," Myers said.
Myers allowed that he has been following the Rays since their 2008 run to the World Series.
"They're obviously a great team," Myers said. "They develop great talent. And I'm definitely looking forward to playing for them."
Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he expects Myers, Odorizzi and Montgomery to all contribute to Tampa Bay's 2013 effort in some fashion.
Odorizzi, 22, made his Major League debut in September and went 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts for the Royals. He spent the majority of the season with Omaha, where he was named the team's Pitcher of the Year, going 11-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 19 games (18 starts). He began the campaign with Northwest Arkansas and was promoted after going 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA in seven starts. His combined 15 victories tied for third most in the Minors.
Originally selected by the Brewers in the supplemental first round (32nd overall) of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, Odorizzi was one of several players traded to the Royals in December 2010 for pitcher Zack Greinke. MLB.com ranked Odorizzi as the No. 3 prospect in the Royals' system.
Odorizzi went 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in his two Major League starts in 2012 -- both against the Indians.
"I learned quite a bit," Odorizzi said. "Just the fact of facing Major League hitters, seeing a Major League lineup, playing in [a Major League] ballpark, taking everything in. I think it will be really helpful this year."
As for winning a Major League job, Odorizzi echoed Myers.
"I'm just going to take it as I haven't heard anything what the plans might be or any indication about what might happen during Spring Training," Odorizzi said. "I'm just going to go in just like I did at camp this year. Try to earn a spot."
While the new arrivals await their first Spring Training with Tampa Bay, Shields and Davis, two homegrown Rays players who were fan favorites, must now say their goodbyes.
"I had a great time in Tampa Bay," Davis said. "It was awesome over there. It was a great group of guys. The coaching staff was awesome. But all I've heard about [the Royals'] organization is a lot of the same thing."
Added Shields: "The fan base we had in Tampa, the fans that did come to the games, they were tremendous fans. But I'm looking forward to get into Kansas City and seeing what they're all about in the city. Every time we come in there, it feels like their fans are real true baseball fans."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.