Bulls prepping for star prospect Myers after trade

Thomasville native dealt from KC to Tampa
Dec. 11, 2012 @ 12:29 AM

DURHAM – The Tampa Bay Rays aren’t ruling out newly acquired prospect Wil Myers from opening the season with them this season.

On Monday, the Durham Bulls unveiled a ticket offer they think will be tempting to their fans either way.

The 22-year-old Myers, a power-hitting minor-league superstar from Thomasville, was traded from Kansas City to Tampa as part of a blockbuster trade late Sunday night. Tampa Bay sent pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals in exchange for Myers, Jake Odorizzi along with two other minor leaguers.

The Bulls, Tampa’s Class AAA affiliate, began offering a ticket plan called ‘Wil He or Won’t He?” The $24 plan includes three big Bulls games, Opening Day on April 8th, July 4th and Fan Appreciation Day on Aug. 24. Should Myers skip Durham and make Tampa Bay’s big-league roster out of spring training, ticket package buyers will receive an additional game for free.

“This ticket package is truly a win-win for our fans,” Bulls General Manager Mike Birling said. “Either we start the season with one of the most exciting, can’t miss prospects in all of baseball or folks will get another game added to their package at no extra cost.”

Myers is considered the jewel of the deal for Tampa Bay.

The power-hitting outfielder batted .314 with 37 homers and 109 RBIs in 134 games at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, and eventually could help provide some protection in the batting order for Rays star Evan Longoria. Myers showed what he could do during the All-Star Futures Game hosted by Kansas City, when he had a pair of hits and drove in three runs at Kauffman Stadium.

He'll finally get a chance to prove it at the major league level at Tropicana Field.

Odorizzi was 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA for Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, and made two late-season starts for Kansas City, going 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in 7 1-3 innings. Mike Montgomery, a left-handed pitcher, was once considered one of the Royals' top prospects, but his stock slid last season, when he went 5-13 with a 6.07 ERA last season while getting demoted from Omaha to Northwest Arkansas.

Patrick Leonard, a third baseman, hit .251 with 14 homers and 46 RBIs in 62 games for the short-season Burlington Royals last season

"We're excited to add these guys, anxious to get to know them beyond the information we have on them," Tampa Bay general manager Andrew Friedman said. "I think it's very possible that Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi will help us win games in 2013, and Mike Montgomery as well."

To acquire the young talent, Friedman gave up two pitchers who were major parts of his team’s recent success.

The 31-year-old Shields, a former All-Star, has been a stalwart in the Tampa Bay rotation the past seven seasons. He was an All-Star two years ago, when he went 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA and finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting, and was 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 33 starts last season, when he pitched 227 2-3 innings — his sixth consecutive year of at least 200 innings pitched.

The only other pitchers to log at least 200 innings in six straight seasons are the Jays' Mark Buehrle, San Francisco's Matt Cain, Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia and the Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

"If you're going to win consistently in the major leagues, you're going to need a rotation that gives you innings, competes, helps you win," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "That's what our goal is, to put together a very good rotation. We feel we've done that."

Shields is due to receive $10.5 million this season. He has a club option for $12 million in 2014 with a $1 million buyout.

Davis, a former Durham Bulls right-hander as is Shields, started 64 games for Tampa Bay from 2009-11. He was shuttled to the bullpen last season when the Rays had an abundance of starters. Davis flourished as a reliever, going 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA, creating some flexibility for him in Kansas City.

Davis is due to make $2.8 million this season and $4.8 million in 2014, with the Royals holding options on the next three years.