Myers soaking up Spring Training experience

Myers soaking up Spring Training experience

Myers soaking up Spring Training experience
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- You know the old joke: Didn't your mother teach you to get in out of the rain? Well, Pam Myers did teach her son to do just that, and darned if it didn't get him in trouble.

Wil Myers, an outfielder with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, was caught in a downpour last summer.

"I slipped running to my apartment out of the rain," he said. "I hit the corner of a column and had a gash in my knee."

Long story short: The cut required stitches and staples, Myers missed a few days, returned to play, opened up the scab, the knee became infected, and surgery was required to drain it.

"It was the most minor surgery you could ever have," Myers said.

Maybe so but, in the end, Myers missed about a month of his season.

"When they cut it and I was in the hospital five days, my muscle right here (in his left thigh) hardened up and they wouldn't let me play until that was back to 100 percent, so that's what took so long," Myers said.

The interruption threw a serious kink into the progress of Myers, 21, who is ranked No. 2 in MLB.com's Top 20 Prospects for the Royals. His 99 games for Northwest Arkansas resulted in a .254 average along with eight home runs and 49 RBIs.

The 6-3 right-handed hitter bounced back with a superb .360 showing in the Arizona Fall League.

"I had a different approach about it in the fall league. I went about it with more confidence. I knew I was a good player and it really helped me out a lot," Myers said. "It had nothing to do with my swing, it was all a mindset."

Now the tousle-haired Myers is happily situated in Kansas City's Major League clubhouse for Spring Training.

"It's pretty cool to be around all the big leaguers," he said. "It's good experience for me to be around all these guys and learn what they do."

Myers, from High Point, N.C., was taken in the third round of the 2009 Draft and spent his first two pro seasons as a catcher who could hit quite well -- his combined average for four different lower-classification teams in those two seasons was .324 with 68 extra-base hits and 101 RBIs in 148 games.

With catcher Salvador Perez on the rise, the Royals decided to move Myers into the outfield last season. Myers and Perez were Northwest Arkansas teammates.

"He's good, man. He's the best catcher I've ever seen," Myers said. "I haven't seen too many, but he's unbelievable back there. I've talked to some pitchers and they say he's the best."

Myers admittedly was a little raw in the outfield at first, but he's making progress. He's played mostly in right field.

"It's actually coming along a lot better than last Spring Training -- I wasn't that good to begin with," he said.

Manager Ned Yost, who saw Myers make a diving catch as a left fielder in an intrasquad game, concurs that there's been improvement.

"I think he's going to be a good player," Yost said. "I'm more interested in seeing his defensive adjustments and so far I've been real impressed by him in the outfield. He's making that transition real nice."

Of course it's his bat in which the Royals are also quite interested. So far he has 67 doubles, 27 homers and six triples in 247 Minor League games, not including the fall league.

"He's going to be a guy that's going to hit the ball out of the ballpark," Yost said. "He's going to be a good hitter, be able to hit the ball out of the park, hit for average."

Myers might soon be moved over the Minor League side of the training complex, but for now he's enjoying his time in the Cactus League. After going 0-for-2 in Thursday's 5-0 win over the Rockies, he was 3-for-10 in five games.

He hasn't felt any real anxiety about his first exposure to the Majors.

"Not really nervous. I was more anxious than anything, ready to just get up there," he said. "My first at-bat, I wasn't nervous. It's what I've been playing all my life, it's all the same."

And so far, in the Arizona skies, there hasn't been a rain cloud in sight.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.