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Royals send top prospects to Rays12/10/2012 1:35 AM ET
By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com
The Tampa Bay Rays acquired three of the Kansas City Royals' top six prospects in a blockbuster seven-player deal late Sunday evening.
The Royals will send outfielder Wil Myers, right-hander Jake Odorizzi, southpaw Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard to the Rays for right-handed starter James Shields, reliever Wade Davis and a player to be named or cash.
Myers, Odorizzi and Montgomery were ranked first, third and sixth, respectively, in Kansas City's Top 20 prospects. Myers is currently MLB.com's No. 3 prospect in all of baseball, while Odorizzi is ranked 30th on the list.
"It's not easy to give up prospects, but it's important that we start winning games," Royals general manager Dayton Moore told MLB.com.
Now in his fourth year of professional baseball, Myers -- who turns 21 on Monday -- was selected in the third round of the 2009 Draft out of Wesleyan Christian Academy. The outfielder split time between two levels in 2012, batting .314 with 37 homers and 109 RBIs between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha.
Topps named Myers -- who finished one homer shy of Reading's Darin Ruf for the Minor League lead -- its Triple-A Minor League Player of the year. With above-average power and a patient approach at the plate, many scouts believe Myers will see the majority of his time in right field at the big league level.
In the 22-year-old Odorizzi, the Rays acquired a pitcher who went from the Texas League to the Majors this year. Odorizzi, who has a mid-90s fastball, a curveball, slider and changeup, went a combined 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 26 games -- including 25 starts -- between Northwest Arkansas and Omaha. He struck out 135 batters over 145 1/3 innings before earning a September callup.
In two big league starts, Odorizzi went 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA. He suffered a loss in his debut at home to the Indians on Sept. 23, and he did not factor in the decision when he allowed a run on two hits and three walks over two innings in Cleveland six days later.
"I was a little surprised by it, with the timing of the evening and all that, but I'm excited -- I'll have a lot of opportunities with Tampa Bay. It's a young team, just like here in Kansas City," Odorizzi told MLB.com. "So I'm going to take it as an opportunity and make the most out of it."
Montgomery, a 6-foot-4 left-hander out of California, was selected by the Royals 36th overall in the 2008 Draft. He spent all of 2011 in the Pacific Coast League with Omaha, but he split time in 2012 between the Naturals and Storm Chasers after struggling at the higher level before being demoted in mid-July. He went a combined 5-12 with a 6.07 ERA across the two levels as batters hit .298 against him.
"I think it's very possible that Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi help us win games in 2013, and Mike Montgomery as well," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told MLB.com.
The fourth player the Rays will receive is third baseman Patrick Leonard, a 6-foot-4 20-year-old prep athlete selected in the fifth round of the '11 Draft. A two-time All-State selection in Florida, Leonard hit .251 in 62 games in his first year of pro ball after turning down a chance to play at the University of Georgia.
The 20-year-old slugged 14 homers, tying for the Appalachian League lead with Elizabethton's Adam Walker II, and plated 46 runs in 234 at-bats for Kansas City's Rookie-level affiliate. He also hit nine doubles and three triples while stealing six bases in eight attempts. He drew 30 walks, struck out 55 times and was named an Appy League postseason All-Star.
"We're constantly working to balance the present and the future and always trying to thread the needle," Friedman said. "As an organization, we rely more on the contributions of our young players than anyone else in baseball. But with this trade, we're hoping to replenish our system and add a lot of players we feel can help us sustain this run of success we've had for the last five years."
In exchange for the prospect-laden quartet going to Tampa, the Royals landed a pair of Major League veterans.
Shields owns an 87-73 record over seven big league seasons with the Rays. In 2011, the 30-year-old finished third in the American League Cy Young voting behind the Tigers' Justin Verlander and the Angels' Jered Weaver after posting a 16-12 mark and a 2.82 ERA while leading the league in complete games (11) and shutouts (four).
This year, Shields went 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA for the Rays, who finished third in the AL East Division, five games behind the Yankees.
Davis is a 27-year-old former third-round pick, who signed a four-year $10.1 million contract with the Rays that would have seen him stay with the club through 2014. He will earn $2.8 million in 2013 and $4.8 million the following year.
Davis spent his first three seasons in the Rays rotation before being moved to the bullpen this year. He went 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA in 54 relief appearances in 2012.
With three of Kansas City's top youngsters on the move, 2011 first-rounder Bubba Starling becomes the team's No. 1 prospect. Right-hander Kyle Zimmer moves to No. 2 from No. 4, with fellow righty Yordano Ventura jumping up two spots from fifth to third. Third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, a 6-foot-1, 20-year-old signed out of Nicaragua, becomes the Royals' second-ranked position prospect.
"The Glasses have allowed us to create a great environment in which people like to work and they've given us the resources to build a strong farm system and make the necessary moves at the Major League level to improve and to win," Moore said. "It's time for us as an organization to win at the Major League level and we have to use all our resources. Our farm system is certainly one of them."