In 2008, Myers went 10-0 as a high school junior, thanks to a 90 mph fastball and decent secondary pitches. And in 2009, he hit .532 with 14 homers and 41 RBI during his senior year at Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, North Carolina. He committed to the University of South Carolina, but ended up signing with the Royals (see below).
When Wil was in high school, his position was to fill whatever spot opened up when the current pitcher went to the mound. So if that meant playing third base or catcher or shortstop or anywhere else, Myers was Wesleyan Christian’s man. “I played basically every position except for second base,” Myers said.
Wil grew up playing wiffle-ball tournaments in Lexington, North Carolina, when he wasn't on the baseball diamond. He also played a lot of basketball.
Myers is a nose-in-the-dirt kind of player.
You can't keep this baseball rat off the field. He says he really cannot remember a year when he didn't play baseball for 10 months out of the year. (2009).
Wil doesn't get upset very often during games. He just has too much fun playing baseball. And his baseball instincts are strong.
In 2010, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Wil as the third-best prospect in the Royals' organization. They moved Myers up a notch, to second best in the K.C. farm system in the winter before 2011 spring training.
He was ranked #3 in the spring of 2012. But they had him as the #1 prospect in the Royals organization in the spring of 2013.
In the offseason before 2010 spring training, Myers added 21 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame at the Athletes Compound in Saddlebrook, Fla., the training center for fellow Creative Artist Agency clients Derek Jeter and Ryan Howard.
In addition to working out twice daily, Myers found himself splayed on a yoga mat a couple times a week, trying to loosen his hips. He's the first guy to the ballpark now. (2012)
In 2012, Myers was named the Minor League Player of the Year by both Baseball America and USA Today.
He's the third Royals prospect to earn the distinction from Baseball America, joining Tom Gordon (1988) and Alex Gordon (2006). Myers is the first Royals prospect to be so honored by USA Today, and he's the seventh player to earn the Baseball America and USA Today awards in the same season. The others are Andruw Jones, Rick Ankiel, Josh Beckett, Jeff Francis, Jason Heyward, and Jeremy Hellickson.
In 134 minor league games—99 with Omaha and 35 to start the season with Double-A Northwest Arkansas—the 21-year-old outfielder hit 37 home runs, the second most in the Minor Leagues this season. Combined, he batted .314 with 109 RBIs, 26 doubles and a .987 OPS.
As 2013 spring training was on the horizon, Joe Maddon had this to say of Myers, "He sounds very calm and sure of himself, and he’s got a good feel for the day. I expect someone who has a high level of charisma and a way to walk through the day very confident. It sounds like he’s got all the ingredients to be very good.”
Wil realized that he was starting 2013 in Durham so that he could iron out his defensive play and improve his base-running. So he got to know base-running coordinator Skeeter Barnes pretty well.
- Myers' teammates on the Rays were very impressed with the amount of composure he showed in the tough moments of his young career as a rookie in 2013.
"He has a short memory," designated hitter Luke Scott said. "He's in his own little world and he's able to forget things really quickly, which is great. If you could put that in a glass and sell it, I would buy it and drink it."
The story, as Triple-A Durham manager Charlie Montoyo remembers it, goes something like this. Wil Myers was standing on third base after a hit by infielder Vince Belnome. He made a simple observation to Montoyo: Belnome's a good hitter. Montoyo replied, "Yeah, he's our second-best hitter."
According to Montoyo, Myers responded, "Well, yeah."
There was no doubt who Durham's best hitter was. Nor is there any question that Myers has been the Rays' best hitter since making his much-anticipated Major League debut on June 18, 2013. Montoyo's story conveys one well-known fact about the rookie outfielder: He's certainly not lacking for confidence. Just listen to some of the things he says or watch him flip his bat as he admires one of his prodigious home runs.
But it would be a mistake to misconstrue Myers as cocky, those close to him insist. More than anything else, they say, he's just an exceedingly genuine and straightforward 22-year-old from North Carolina enjoying the only career he's wanted.
"I feel like I'm very honest with what I do," Myers said. "If I don't feel good, I'm going to tell you I don't feel good. If I do feel good, I'm going to tell you I feel good. I never had a dream of doing anything else, even as a kid. I was never like, 'Well, maybe one day I'll want to coach.' I always thought I was going to play in the big leagues." (Berry - mlb.com - 8/12/13)
Myers' father, Eric, tells the story of living in a small basement apartment in Thomasville, N.C. Eric would lob plastic balls to his 3-year-old son in their den, and Myers would spray them all over the room with a plastic bat.
"I knew right then the boy had something," Eric Myers said. "He waited until it got in the zone and just unleashed on it." That might sound familiar to anyone who's seen Myers hit. The Rays have talked about Myers' bat speed and the "different sound" his bat makes from the moment he first stepped into a batting cage this spring.
"He's able to process stuff, whether it's hitting, defense or baserunning, that not a lot of other young guys process as well as he has," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I think when you talk to him, it's different. There's actually some sophistication there."
But it's that part about the way Myers acts—the "naivete," as Maddon called it—that stands out at times. Like in 2013 Spring Training, when Myers crushed a triple, received some praise from coach Tom Foley for hitting the ball so hard, and responded, "I hit everything hard."
"I don't think he means anything by it at all," Eric Myers said. "He's almost too honest."
"I don't think it's cockiness at all, but it's certainly confidence," Ben Zobrist said. "You can see that he believes that he's going to be here for a long time, and he believes that he's one of the best players in the game. He doesn't have to question that."
The other side of Myers' personality is more visible away from the ballpark. The story, as his mother, Pam, remembers it, displays a degree of humility you might not expect. Shortly after Myers graduated from Wesleyan Christian Academy, they were talking to his kindergarten teacher, who asked where Myers planned to attend college.
"And he said, 'Well, I got a job out of high school,'" Pam Myers said. His mother insisted that Myers tell her the whole truth: He'd been picked by the Royals in the third round of the 2009 draft. His "job out of high school" was professional baseball.
"I would bet almost anything that he's not changed a lick since he was in Little League, seventh grade, high school," Maddon said. "I would imagine he's the same exact guy."
So it's not too surprising that Myers said the most unusual thing about the Majors has been the "different lifestyle ... the overall thing besides the game." As a rookie, Myers has to arrive to the park before everyone else to get his work in, so he shows up early. He has sought advice from Zobrist, 10 years his senior, and before most night games at home, they sit down to discuss their faith and families, in addition to baseball.
"He doesn't take himself too seriously. He's not afraid to fail or afraid to look stupid," Zobrist said. "I think that's one of those most endearing things that anyone can have in their personality. I think that's why a lot of people in this clubhouse took to him so quickly."
And Myers doesn't necessarily crave the public spotlight. Consider a more recent story, as his parents remember it, when they were at Tropicana Field for the Rays-Giants game in July 2013. Myers made post-game plans for his family to eat together at a restaurant near his apartment.
A few hours later, in the bottom of the 10th inning, Myers laced a single to deep left field to give Tampa Bay the win. He got the full walk-off treatment from his teammates, celebrating another career first. But when Myers left the clubhouse, he called off his original plans.
Myers wanted to be with his family, his mother said, and that would've been tough at a place where he knew he'd be recognized as the night's walk-off hero. Instead, he invited the dozen or so family members back to his apartment and put a frozen pizza in the oven. "I don't think he likes the limelight. He doesn't want to be a movie star," Eric Myers said. "He wants to be the best player on the field." (Berry - mlb.com - 8/12/13)
During the 2008 Perfect Game National Showcase in Minneapolis, working out as a catcher, Wil ventured into the stands to ask his father how he looked. More specifically, he wanted to know if he'd done better than the star-studded competition in his group. The answer, a simple "no," wasn't the one Myers was looking for.
"Don't tell him anyone's better than he is," Pam Myers said, laughing. That doesn't mean Myers is trying to show anyone up, even if his occasional bat flips might lead observers to think otherwise. Maddon acknowledged that Myers may appear to finish his swings in a "flamboyant" way, but Myers says it's just a natural part of his follow-through.
"It's just him being happy about what he did," Seratelli said. "But I don't know how he flips the bat that far. It's actually kind of amazing." (Berry - mlb.com - 8/12/13)
Veteran reliever Joel Peralta noted that the expectations on Myers were almost impossibly lofty, but he's "proved himself, that he can hit, since he got here." Myers will admit he wasn't prepared for all this when the season began. He was eager to get here, of course, but still happy to be close to home in Durham, where the Bulls named a section of seats "Wil-Ville."
Meanwhile, Myers developed a better approach at the plate, improved his defense and baserunning and eventually got into a groove over his last 25 games—a hot streak that signaled to Tampa Bay's front office that he was ready for the next level. So far, so good.
"Honestly, I felt like I was big league-ready two or three days before I got called up. It's kind of funny that it happened at the time it did," Myers said. "Even as good as I felt in Durham, I feel like I'm a better hitter now than I was then."
Myers' story, if these first few glimpses have been any indication, is only just beginning. (Berry - mlb.com - 8/12/13)
2013 Player Choice Awards: Myers was named AL Outstanding Rookie by posting a .293 batting average with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs.
In 2013, Myers won the American League Rookie of the Year award.
Myers became the third Tampa Bay player in six years to win the Rookie of the Year, joining Jeremy Hellickson (2011) and Evan Longoria (2008).
Myers captured the imaginations of Rays fans in 2013 with his big swing, the fact he didn't wear batting gloves and the perception he was not affected by pressure. Fellow Rays outfielder David DeJesus noted that the youngster's outward appearance can be misleading. "He's the type of guy, people have a misconception about him, like he's no batting gloves and whatever," DeJesus said. "That couldn't be farther from the truth. He's a competitor. He wants to win at everything. He has a passion for baseball that's great to see at the young age he's at. And I feel the sky's the limit for him. He just has to keep on working."
When asked if a hitter can think too much while trying to make adjustments, Myers responded, "No, I don't think so" before adding: "I know what I did wrong and I know how to correct it for this year."
"I think a lot of people who get into situations do so when they try to do things other than what they have done that has made them successful," Hitting coach Derek Shelton said. "But I'm not concerned about it with Wil. He's a confident kid and extremely talented. So I think he's going to build on what he did last year." (Chastain - mlb.com - 02/19/14)
April 5, 2014: Not only did the first 20,000 fans in attendance receive a Wil Myers Rookie of the Year bobblehead, he also was honored for winning the 2013 Jackie Robinson American League Rookie of the Year Award, selected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Rays manager Joe Maddon was asked about what earned Myers the honor.
"His ability to hit the ball hard," Maddon said. "He hits the ball hard. That's what good hitters do. When you hit the ball that hard, you miss defenses. Guys that don't hit the ball that hard, defenses can cover. Why's he going to be so good? Because the ball comes off the bat hot for him. That's why he's a very good hitter."
Maddon also allowed that he would like to see more from Myers, because he believes he's capable of doing more.
"There's a lot of other good things there," Maddon said. "That's why I want to push him on the defensive side of his game. Not have him just think of himself as an offensive player.
"He has really good skills, foot speed, arm, baserunning. So I want him to become a complete player." (April 5, 2014 - Bill Chastain - MLB.com)
Prior to getting drafted by the Royals in 2009, Wil went to Kansas City to work out for the Royals. At that workout, Myers asked the Royals if the team would mind turning on the fountain in center field while he hit. "That story still haunts me," said Myers managing a smile. For the record, Myers added that the Royals did not turn on the fountain. (4/07/14).
December 4, 2015: Without picking up a phone and without sending a single email, A.J. Preller, the general manager of the Padres, added a first baseman. Preller essentially proclaimed Wil Myers—the team's 2015 Opening Day starter in center field—as their first baseman moving forward.
"It's definitely an attractive option getting Wil locked in at first base," Preller said. "Part of the move in moving Yonder [Alonso] was getting Wil locked into a spot." First baseman Alonso was traded to the A's, paving the way for Wil to slide over to first base.
The move was music to Myers' ears, as he essentially fell in love with the position during his 22-game stint there, so much so that he told Preller before the Alonso deal was made that he preferred to play there in 2016."I enjoy first base the most. If I had a preference, it would be first. I've told them that," Myers said. "I had never played first base at the professional level until last year, but I enjoyed it. I think I can play first base really well.
"The last year has been tough. Since I was 5 years old, I have been able to play baseball when I wanted," he said. "That was taken away from me the last two years. The only goal I have this year is to stay healthy. If I stay healthy, I'll be able to put up the numbers that I want to."
Myers said he's changed his offseason workout program from a general program to one designed to help him with areas that have given him fits before—such as both wrists. (C Brock - MLB.com - December 4, 2015)
May 6, 2016: The Padres were sporting their throwback uniforms recently, the ones with a splash of yellow.
Check that: a single Padre was rocking the old-school color on this day.
First baseman Wil Myers tipped his cap to the Padres' popular hue of the past, but it's not what you think. "He had a mustard stain on his pants before the game,'' Padres manager Andy Green said. "I said, 'Wil, this is a Major League baseball game. We got more pairs of pants.' But he doesn't care.''
Where there's a Wil there's usually a whiff of wackiness. Few Padres are performing better; no Padre has more fun. "He just wants to go out and play baseball,'' Green said. "He loves being on the field.''
Myers oozes with enthusiasm and an aw-shucks demeanor which is refreshing. If Myers was still a pipsqueak player, he'd be the kid with the jersey untucked, the hat on backward and a toothy smile. "He plays like it is Little League,'' Green said. But he's producing in a big-leaguer fashion.
After every big save, there's Myers yucking it up with closer Fernando Rodney. When Rodney gets that last out and channels William Tell by shooting an imaginary arrow to the sky, Myers is right there to track where it lands. "It's different every day,'' Myers said of the resting space. (J Paris - MLB.com - May 6, 2016)
In June 2013, Wil's callup to the big leagues was an inevitability. Myers had an .876 on-base plus slugging percentage in 64 games for Triple-A Durham, and the Rays' offense needed some life. It was simply a matter of time.
And yet, on Father's Day of 2013, Myers was still playing at Durham—barely over an hour's drive from his hometown of Thomasville, N.C. The Bulls had a home game that day, so the entire Myers family—Wil's father, Eric, his mother, Pam, his brother, Beau, and both sets of grandparents—made the trek to see Wil play.
Wil rewarded his family right away with a first-inning single—and then didn't emerge to take his place in the field for the second. "He didn't come out of the dugout that next inning, and we got a little concerned," Eric Myers recalled. "Then he called his momma and told her [he had been called up]. It was pretty exciting, but we had to keep it quiet until we got outside the stadium."
Along with the entire Myers family, some family friends were also in attendance at the game. And while Eric and Pam Myers were aware that their son had been called up, they didn't want to cause a commotion by telling everyone on the spot.
Instead, they told the group to follow them out of the stadium concourse, which led to a few puzzled looks. When they met in the bowels of Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the celebration finally began. "Obviously, my parents were pretty emotional about it," Myers said. "And it was really cool for it to be on Father's Day."
As Wil recalls, the afternoon morphed from a Father's Day celebration into a celebration of the former top prospect's baseball career. "It was a pretty cool deal; I had the whole family there," Myers said. "I had one at-bat. They took me out in the second inning. They told me, 'Hey, you're done. You're going up.' It was right about that time: Super Two was out of the question, and I was really hot at the time, so everyone kind of knew at some point soon, I was going to get called up.
"It wasn't a huge surprise. But obviously, any time you get called up, it's a big deal. That kind of took over Father's Day." Not that Eric Myers minded. He had an inkling that day was coming for a long time.
When Wil was 6 years old, the mayor of Thomasville stopped Eric at a Little League game to point out the talented young kid playing shortstop. "That boy right there is going to play in the Major Leagues one day," Eric Myers recalls being told. Unbeknownst to the mayor, he was speaking with that boy's father.
But Eric Myers says he knew Wil had rare talent a few years before that. So when, exactly, did Eric realize he had a son capable of big things on the ballfield? "He would just unload on the ball in the house at 3 years old," says Eric. "We had to stop playing in the house. He was knocking lamps over."
There's little question that the raw talent was always there for Wil Myers. It's partly why he's transitioned so smoothly to first base in 2016. Still, plenty of young kids are blessed with talent. Myers credits his father for allowing him to realize it.
"He was the biggest factor in my baseball career," Wil said of his father. "The one thing I credit my dad for that I know a lot of dads don't do anymore is being honest with me about my game. He never told me how great I was; he always told me just to keep working hard." (Cassavell - MLB.com - 6/16/16)
July 6, 2016: Myers was rewarded for his monster performance during the first half of the season, as the 25-year-old slugger was named to his first All-Star team. And, he participated in his first Home Run Derby.
July 8, 2016: For the first time since 1992, the All-Star Game is coming to San Diego. Never one to ignore mom's advice, the city knows the importance of being a good host—and, like All-Star sites before them, they've named an All-Star Week ambassador: Wil Myers.
Typically, the ambassador travels all over the place during All-Star Week, generating awareness for different events and celebrating all the festivities around town. Myers, however, isn't content to be just another ambassador. He's looking to raise the bar, to give his guests a proper San Diego experience. So, naturally, he put his extra room up on Airbnb.
The place has it all: a rooftop lounge with a fire pit, a balcony, even an in-building steam room. And for the low, low price of $63 a night, it could be yours ... or, well, it could have been, but Myers has already found himself a roommate, and Noah Syndergaard took him up on it. (C Landers - MLB.com - July 9, 2016)
2016 All-Star home run derby: Wil participated in the home run derby and had his younger brother pitch to him. The only negative was his brother hit him with a pitch during the contest.
Sept 16, 2016: At times this season, Wil Myers has taken his game to a level rarely seen in Padres history. In an 8-7 loss to the Rockies, Myers reached a level that has never been seen in Padres history.
He opened the scoring with a two-run dinger into the right-field bullpen. In doing so, he became the first player in franchise history to record 25 homers, doubles and steals in a single season. "It's something that's definitely pretty cool," Myers said. "I definitely didn't have that goal in mind when I started the season. But as I learned more about stealing bases, it kind of became one."
Myers and Mike Trout are the only players in baseball to have accomplished the feat this season. In fact, until Myers did so, only Trout had done so in the past four years, and he had done it twice. (A Cassavell - MLB.com - Sept 17, 2016)
Nov 23, 2016: Myers first became involved with the Miracle League of High Point while playing high school baseball at Wesleyan Christian Academy in North Carolina. As part of his team's community service efforts, he helped at the local Miracle League field at least once every season.
A decade later, Myers continues to use his involvement in baseball to help special needs children. Earlier this month, Myers hosted the second "Wil Myers Wiffle Ball Challenge," a tournament to benefit the Miracle League of High Point. The Miracle League provides children with special needs an opportunity to play, and its motto reads, "Every child deserves a chance to play baseball."
In total, 22 teams each featuring four-to-six players participated in the Nov. 12 fast-pitch tournament. Myers was the only Major Leaguer on hand, but a few Minor League and college ballplayers from the area also took part. Teams from Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina participated, and Myers' squad—featuring his former high school coach and two of his childhood friends—earned the title.
"It was really an amazing tournament," Myers told MLB.com. "The turnout that we had, the money that we raised—it was a great turnout, and everybody did a great job with it. All the kids had a ton of fun, which is the most important thing."
The 2014 event raised enough money for renovations to the local Miracle League field. Myers said the funds raised from the 2016 event exceeded those from the inaugural tournament two years ago. This year's event took place at Myers' old high school, where the Major League Baseball Players Association and ProCamps were on hand to help. Teams participating in the fast-pitch tournament paid an entry fee, benefiting the Miracle League. Meanwhile, a separate field was set up for children in the Miracle League to take part in their own games.
"I don't look at myself as a big leaguer, and neither does anybody from my hometown," Myers said. "It's not like a big deal when I come back home. It's just me coming back home, spending time with my family and friends. "So, going back to the Miracle League, to be able to help them out financially and uplift the spirits of those kids and the parents—it's a special thing." (A Cassavell - MLB.com - Nov 23, 2016)
Wil got some new lumber before the Padres' game against the Cardinals. It came in the form of an autographed skateboard from legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, one of his childhood heroes. In exchange, Will gave Tony a baseball bat. (Cassavell - mlb.com - 9/7/17)
Entering the 2020 season, Myers is the WAR leader for the Padres.
2020 Season: One reason Myers was so much better in 2020 was that he cut down his strikeout rate significantly. While it had been in the 20s most of his career, it spiked to 34.3% in 2019. In 2020, he was able to get that down to 25.7%, his lowest mark in four seasons. He wasn’t necessarily showing more patience; his walk rate of 8.3% was actually the lowest of his career.
Myers was simply barreling up the ball better in 2020. Line drive and fly ball percentages were up, and his ground ball percentage was down this past season. He also was pulling the ball less and going to the opposite field more. Meanwhile, what FanGraphs calls Z-contact%, which is contact percentage of pitches inside the strike zone, was up from 77.6% in 2019 to 85.2% in 2020.
Myers is never going to be a wizard defensively, as many of his defensive metrics rate below average, while that speed that earned him 28 stolen bases just four years ago only earned him two in 2020. However, perhaps he’s finally found a home in right field after years of moving around the diamond. (Brian Johnston - Dec. 23, 2020)
June 2009: The Royals drafted Myers in the third round, out of Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, NC. He signed on August 14 for a bonus of $2 million, via scout Steve Connelly. That was more than five times MLB’s $380,700 slot value for #91 in the draft. He passed up a scholarship to the University of South Carolina.
December 9, 2012: The Rays sent RHP James Shields, RHP Wade Davis, and a player to be named or cash considerations to the Royals; acquiring Myers, RHP pitcher Jake Odorizzi, LHP Mike Montgomery, and 3B Patrick Leonard.
December 18, 2014: In a giant, 11-player/3-team trade, the Padres received Myers, C Ryan Hanigan, RHP Gerardo Reyes, and LHP Jose Castillo—all from the Rays. The Rays received OF Steven Souza and LHP Travis Ott from the Nationals; and C Rene Rivera, 1B Jake Bauers, and RHP Burch Smith from the Padres. The Nationals received two player from the Padres: RHP Joe Ross and SS Trea Turner (who was the player to be named later in June 2015).
- January 23, 2017: Myers and the Padres agreed on a six-year, $83 million contract extension.