Bob Lutz: Myers gives hope for Royals’ future

07/08/2012 5:00 AM

08/05/2014 8:00 PM

After what they’ve seen for 84 games this season and 27 years since 1985, Kansas City Royals fans are ready for anything.

And if that means 21-year-old Wil Myers joining the team after the All-Star break, after his 2-for-4, three-RBI night in Sunday’s Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium, so be it.

And while they’re at it, the Royals can bring 22-year-old starting pitcher Jake Odirizzi and 21-year-old flamethrower Yardano Ventura with Myers.

A fan base eager for viability might not be the best group to manage the future of the Royals. But after what they’ve seen of the past, including a team that limps to the break with a 2-8 record in its past 10 games, their patience has been tested.

Myers, especially, looks appealing after clubbing 27 homers and driving home 72 runs while splitting time between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha this season.

His batting average is well over .300 and Myers, a third-round steal in the 2009 draft — albeit a steal that cost the Royals a $2 million signing bonus — looks like he’s not long for the minor leagues.

Asked if he would like to just stay in Kansas City rather than board a plane Tuesday morning bound for Buffalo and the Triple-A All-Star Game, Myers immediately said he would. Confidence is one of his biggest attributes and there’s no doubt in his mind he’s ready.

But the Royals don’t seem likely to deal right fielder Jeff Francoeur as the July 31 trade deadline approaches and Kansas City still hasn’t gotten much of a look at center fielder Lorenzo Cain, obtained last year from Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke deal.

There are high expectations for Cain, one of the Brewers’ top prospects who was a big reason why the Royals agreed to deal Greinke. Makes sense for Kansas City to get an extended look at him as he recovers from a groin injury that has slowed him most of the season.

So there Myers sits, a tantalizing piece of a puzzle the Royals have been working on for the better part of three decades.

With third baseman Mike Moustakas, shortstop Alcides Escobar, catcher Salvador Perez and first baseman Eric Hosmar, the Royals have a solid and young nucleus of players who could help this franchise win again.

Throw in Myers and you can see why more than 40,000 turned out Sunday to see a part — three parts, actually — of Kansas City’s baseball future. For too many years now, the future has been all that matters. And it has normally been a disappointment.

There’s a sense now, though, that the Royals are on the cusp. At times this season, they have looked like a contender, even through a mine field of starting pitching explosions.

So as important as Myers is to Kansas City’s future, Odirizzi might even be a more important piece. Also picked up from the Brewers in the Greinke deal, he is 9-2 so far in 2012, splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A. At Omaha, Odirizzi, who gave up a first inning home run to Jurickson Profar in the Futures Game, is 5-0 with a 2.83 ERA.

The most impressive of the Royals prospects Sunday was Ventura, appropriately nicknamed “Ace.” He pitched a 1-2-3 first inning and got the best of Myers, who grounded to third to end the inning. Ventura reached 100 mph on the stadium radar gun three times, a fact that did not escape him.

That he has such a electric arm attached to such a small frame – Ventura is listed at 5-foot-11 and 140 pounds – defies a logical explanation.

Ventura did profess his admiration for fellow Dominican right-hander Pedro Martinez, one of the most successful pitchers of the past 25 years. Comparisons will be plentiful until Ventura shows that he doesn’t deserve them.

Clearly, though, Myers is the Royals prospect most on the minds of fans. Drafted as a catcher out of Rock Hill, S.C., he has power, speed and can play a bunch of different positions, though he says he prefers center field.

“But I want to play wherever they want to play me,’’ Myers said. “It was a little difficult being out there defensively tonight; you saw the first inning where I didn’t take a great route to a ball. It’s different playing the ball coming out of the upper deck, but once I’m here I’ll get used to it.’’

Myers was recently declared by “Baseball America” as the third best prospect in the minors at the mid-season point. After an up-and-down 2011 season, when he batted only .254 with iffy power numbers, he has busted through this season.

Apparently, the Royals want him to continue tearing it up in Triple-A for six or seven more weeks, before September call-ups.

Myers and a starving fan base would prefer a more accelerated arrival.

“I don’t try to put too much pressure on myself,’’ Myers said when asked about how eager he is to reach the big leagues. “I just want to go out there every day and have good at-bats.’’

Soon, half of those at-bats will be inside the stadium in which Myers is destined to be a fixture.

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