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Myers calls Day 1 in Majors an 'awesome experience'

After going 0-for-4 in Game 1 of twin bill, Rays' top prospect singles in Game 2

BOSTON -- The debut was nothing like the hype, but that doesn't mean Wil Myers doesn't belong here.

The Rays' top prospect was aggressive and confident at the plate during his first day in the Major Leagues on Tuesday, but he finished with just one hit in seven at-bats.

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"It was an awesome experience," the 22-year-old said. "I feel good at the plate right now. I didn't really show it in that [first] game, but I feel good. I'm glad they called me up when I was hot."

Myers played right field while hitting sixth in a pair of Rays losses to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

"He's definitely fine here," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's going to be fine. We just have to get him out there and settled down. He's going to be just fine."

That was the general feeling in the Rays' clubhouse Tuesday, as the arrival of Myers and his powerful right-handed bat sent a wave of confidence through the team.

"This just tells us that [executive vice president of baseball operations] Andrew [Friedman] and the front office [are] trying to win," said Evan Longoria, who, like Myers, made his Major League debut at age 22. "Because we often times look at guys that we have in the Minor Leagues, or possible moves that can be made to make our team better, and this was one of them. This is one of those moves.

"Wil has been playing well down there. He's been hot. He's one of our prospects, and they call him up here and give him a chance to play and to help us at the big league level. ... As a team, it's reinvigorating, gives us a little bit of renewed energy, and I'm excited to see him play."

While Myers' bat carries a lot of pop -- he homered nearly once every 21 at-bats in the Minor Leagues -- he's also displayed an aggressive approach, striking out 71 times in 252 at-bats for Triple-A Durham this season.

Maddon, however, isn't concerned.

"No, not at all," Maddon said. "One of the major differences that I've been told is that he's done better against right-handed pitching, because he's done well against lefties, for sure. Those are the kinds of little incremental positives that you're looking for in order to make a decision that he's ready to be here. So I'm not concerned about that."

Matt Moore, who was also a top-five Major League prospect before making his debut at age 22, put it in perspective: The year before he threw his first pitch for the Rays, Moore posted numbers worse than he would at the next three levels. Pitching at Class A Advanced Charlotte in 2010, his record was 6-11 with a 3.36 ERA.

"That's what everyone sees from the outside," Moore said of Minor League numbers, "but a lot more of it is makeup. And that isn't showing in maybe what my ERA was at a certain time in a certain year."

Moore said the Rays are among the best at putting together a full assessment of when a player is ready, and that goes much farther than just statistics.

"I think Andrew and whoever goes into making those decisions, they have a really good feel for where that player is at mentally," Moore said. "I never got to a place like that where I said, 'Man, I should be in the big leagues right now.' I'm pretty sure Wil never got there, because it's not up to you. It's not up to what your numbers look like in a completely different league.

"Triple-A is not the big leagues. You may be doing really well, but there are a lot of other factors that go into if a guy is ready to come up or not."

Check the Rays' recent track record with top prospects: Moore and Longoria didn't make their Major League debuts until they were 22. Desmond Jennings, Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb and David Price made their debuts at 23. All have found success.

"Our front office does a good job of not putting pressure on us," Jennings said. "They call us up when they think we're ready. They don't really rush us. They do a good job of it."

While Myers entered play Tuesday at age 22, there have already been 22 other players younger than him in the Majors this season.

With almost 2,000 Minor League plate appearances, Myers has the Rays confident that he's ready to be here.

And whether Myers finds success immediately or not, he should stick around.

Maddon has only two expectations:

"That he'll enjoy himself today and that he'll play hard," the manager said. "I really think he's going to be fine. He's got this very unassuming way about him. He's a very real kind of guy. He's worked hard to get to this particular moment.

"Hey, listen, he's going to have some bad days. Absolutely. But that's where the encouragement part comes in. And as long as he's able to process it and handle it well, I'm good. And the expectations are that that's going to happen."

Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @jmastrodonato.

Tampa Bay Rays, Wil Myers