The Omaha Storm Chasers just hit into a prospect double play.
And that's a good thing for the Class AAA team.
Two of the top prospects in minor league baseball were promoted to Omaha from Class AA Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday.
Outfielder Wil Myers and pitcher Jake Odorizzi will join the Storm Chasers for an eight-game homestand, which starts with Thursday's 6:35 p.m. game at Werner Park against Tacoma.
“To get both of these guys is very exciting,” said Martie Cordaro, the Storm Chasers president and general manager. “All I can say is, ‘Wow.' ”
Both Myers and Odorizzi are top 100 prospects and were ranked Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, in the Kansas City system by Baseball America this past offseason — behind current Omaha pitcher Mike Montgomery and outfielder Bubba Starling, the former Nebraska quarterback recruit.
Myers, 21, draws comparisons to Jayson Werth or — for an older generation — two-time most valuable player Dale Murphy. He's a converted catcher who has played all three outfield spots and has now started working at third base. He hit .343 with 13 homers and 30 RBIs in 35 games with Northwest Arkansas.
Odorizzi, 22, was 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA for the Naturals, allowing 27 hits and 10 walks while striking out 47 in 38 innings. He has been considered the key piece that Kansas City received in the 2010 trade of Zack Greinke to Milwaukee, even though that deal also yielded the Royals' starting shortstop (Alcides Escobar) and starting center fielder (Lorenzo Cain), as well as a flame-throwing reliever (Jeremy Jeffress).
Kansas City considered selecting Myers in the first round of the 2009 draft, but took Aaron Crow instead. The Royals were pleased that the High Point, N.C., product was still available in the third round because of his high bonus demand — Kansas City took him and signed him for $2 million.
He played 99 games in Class AA last year and hit .254 with eight homers, as he was slowed by a knee injury that later became infected.
Myers has played two games at third base, and Kansas City appears to be fast-tracking him for major league duty at multiple positions.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Myers recently tweeted that he was enjoying his new position.
Myers hit five homers in a six-game stretch in early May and, after a four-game drought, he hit two on Monday night.
He leads the Texas League in batting average, is tied for second in homers and is third in RBIs.
“There's only so long you can keep a guy in a league when he hits a home run every night,” said Scott Sharp, Kansas City's director of minor league operations. “He's a tremendous athlete, very physical, with hands like double-cut pork chops.
“I never saw Dale Murphy as an amateur or young player, but as soon as I saw Wil, I thought that's what a young Dale Murphy would look like.”
Odorizzi, the 32nd overall pick in the 2008 draft by Milwaukee, signed for $1.06 million. The Breese, Ill., native split last year between high Class A Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas, going a combined 10-7 with a 3.73 ERA.
Often compared to Greinke, he's gone 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA while twice striking out 33 in his past four starts this year for the Naturals. His fastball is typically in the 91 to 93 mph range, occasionally reaching 95, and his curve, slider and change-up all show potential.
He's second in the league in strikeouts, opponents' batting average (.191) and strikeouts per nine innings (11.1).
“He might have had one or two suspect starts, but they really weren't that bad,” Sharp said. “He's very mature with a good mound presence, and he really knows how to pitch. He throws a lot of strikes.
“At some point, how many seven-inning, one-walk, 11-strikeout outings does it take before you have to move the guy (up)? At some point you have to up the learning curve to the next level.”
Odorizzi isn't expected to be added to the roster until Friday, when Omaha will make an additional move to create space on its roster. The right-hander hasn't pitched since May 11.
Kansas City's minor league system is still considered one of the game's finest despite major league promotions for the likes of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, Johnny Giavotella, Salvador Perez and others in the past year.
Cordaro compared the dual promotions of Myers and Odorizzi to the start of last season, when Hosmer, Montgomery, Duffy and Giavotella all were named to Omaha's opening-day roster.
“And they all started to move (to the majors) as the season went along,” Cordaro said. “We hope our fans are able to take advantage of the opportunity to see these guys. Hosmer was here for five weeks, Perez for three weeks, (Kelvin) Herrera for six weeks. … You just don't know how long these guys will be in a Storm Chasers uniform.”
Traveling exhibit at Werner Park
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s traveling exhibit, “Times, Teams & Talent,” will be on display at Werner Park on Thursday. Gates open for the public at 5:15 p.m.
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