When the Tampa Bay Rays announced the promotion of top prospect Wil Myers last Sunday, they did so hoping the 22-year-old outfielder could provide a little power while helping to lengthen a lineup that had been struggling to produce consistently.
Though it's a bit early yet to determine what his short term and long term impact will be, Myers definitely passed a big test on Saturday by producing three hits in the Rays 7-5 loss to the New York Yankees. To break it down further, Myers collected two hits off former Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia, and a third against the greatest closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera, in a save situation no less.
That's a performance that would boost any young hitter's confidence, but the biggest moment of Wil Myers day was accomplishing a career milestone.
It happened in the sixth inning with New York holding a 3-1 lead. After Sabathia elected to walk Evan Longoria intentionally to load the bases with two outs, Myers stepped in knowing the Yankees ace had just issued him the first big challenge he'll face at the big league level. And he overcame that challenge in the biggest way possible, delivering Sabathia's 1-2 pitch over the right field wall for his first career homer — a grand slam.
If you watch the video, keep your eye on Myers. I don't think his feet touched the ground until he rounded third base. The swing. The bat flip. The reaction. It was all great, and the excitement hadn't died down much after the game despite the fact that his Rays ended dropping a tough game.
''It was just awesome to be down two strikes and the crowd cheering and to be able to put a swing like that on it,'' Myers said. ''Just a cool experience.''
It wasn't a majestic blast by any stretch. In fact, at first glanced it looked like Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner actually helped to propel it over the fence. Upon further review, Myers' flyball had just enough juice to land right on top of the fence, and Gardner getting the webbing of his glove on it didn't really factor in. Had Gardner timed his jump better and reeled it back in, though, we'd been looking at this play from a completely different angle with entirely different reactions.
We also wouldn't have these historical nuggets to pass along.
First, courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau, Myers is the first player whose first career homer was a grand slam at Yankee Stadium since Hideki Matsu did it in 2003. Also, the Rays P.R. staff notes that at age 22, Myers is the youngest player to hit a grand slam in Yankee Stadium since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1991.
Obviously, both of those moments came at the old Stadium, but that history carries over just as Myers begins to write his own history.