Bulls' Myers ends homer drought

Rays top prospect drills first International League longball

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com | April 20, 2013 8:24 PM ET

Last year, Wil Myers became one of baseball's most heralded prospects, largely because of the 37 home runs he drilled between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha.

He arrived at Triple-A Durham after an offseason trade from Kansas City to Tampa Bay and, through his first 13 games with the Bulls, hadn't hit a longball. That finally changed Saturday night.

Myers, the Rays' top prospect, went yard in the fourth inning as Durham beat Norfolk, 5-3, to complete a sweep of its doubleheader.

The 22-year-old outfielder connected on a changeup from Major League veteran Mark Hendrickson and sent it over the center-field wall at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

"It felt good. I got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it," Myers said. "There had been a little pressure and it was nice to get it out of the way. It was obviously in the back of my mind a little bit, with the season I had last year, but I still felt good at the plate. I was taking my walks, hit some good pitches. But, yeah, feels good to get the first one out of the way."

Indeed, despite the early lack of home run pop, Myers is hitting .308 with a .406 on-base percentage. In three of his four Minor League seasons, a down year in 2011 the lone anomaly, he's hit at least .314 and put up an OBP of at least .387.

MLB.com's fourth-ranked overall prospect said that as long as he remained consistent in those two areas, he wasn't worried about home runs.

"I feel like usually when I hit them, they come in bunches," he said. "I'm happy with the season so far, been patient at the plate. I'm not looking to hit balls out of the park when I go up there, I take more of an overall approach."

In the meantime, Myers said he's enjoyed playing in Durham, only an hour from High Point, N.C., where he attended high school.

"For me, [Durham] is the second-best place to play besides the big leagues," he said. "I've been able to go back and watch my brother play a few times, I get family at the games, my girlfriend is in town. It's really cool to be able to be in front of the home crowd."

After getting on the board Saturday, Myers has a .442 slugging percentage and 12 RBIs in 14 games. Last season, he finished with a .314/.387/.600 line across the two levels in the Royals system. He was named Minor League Player of the Year by Topps and USA Today.

Tampa Bay made him the centerpiece of the James Shields trade last December and there's no definitive timetable, it wouldn't surprise many if Myers makes his Major League debut soon.

"[The Rays] told me they hoped that I would help the big league team this year, but I'm not too worried," he said. "I just go out, work on my game, my approach. They gave me a few things to work on, so I just wanna work on those things."

Durham also won the opener, 10-4, as Rays No. 4 prospect Chris Archer (3-0) held Norfolk to three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits and three walks while striking out four over five innings.

The Bulls lost shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, Tampa Bay's fifth-ranked prospect, who suffered torn knee ligaments during a fourth-inning collision at second base.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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