It's easy to see how Will Rhymes has slipped through the cracks; he played high school ball with Vince Blue, he played college ball at small school William and Mary, and now he plays for the Whitecaps with Cameron Maybin. Instead of letting that eat at him, he seems to relish the fact that he's never been the focus. "I've never been the guy in the spotlight, I just try to get the job done...I know I'm never gonna be that guy."
Though he may never be "that guy," Rhymes has impressed so far and has done more than get his job done. He hit well above .400 his senior year at William and Mary, and continued to hit in the Cape Cod league. Though most players experience some trouble on the switch, Rhymes seemed oblivious to it. He credits this in part to his playing in the Cape Cod League for a few summers and to his short swing.
"I have a knack for getting hits," says Rhymes, and it's hard to argue with that so far in his professional career. Last year he hit .328 for the Oneonta Tigers in 61 games and had 82 hits, tying Matt Joyce for the most on the team. Currently, he is hitting .303 and is second on the team with 20 hits. One other part of Rhymes' game that warrants mention is his speed. Though he will never be confused for a speed demon, Rhymes certainly is quick and has a good understanding on how to use his speed well, stealing 14 last year and already with 4 steals this year.
However with this quick start, Rhymes finds himself in new territory. "I'm typically a slow starter," said Rhymes, "this is new for me and it feels nice...it takes a lot of pressure off."
Quick starts may be new, but playing next to shortstop Mike Holliman everyday is not. The two played last year with Oneonta, and during that time, seem to have found the kind of relationship between middle infielders that managers dream of. Perhaps this is because they are both from Texas, or, as Will said, "good old Texas boys", or perhaps this is just being in the right place at the right time. But one thing is for sure; they get along, enjoy playing next to each other and feed off of each other.
When it comes time to bat, they typically hit first and second in the order. As Rhymes said, "It's nice, you get into a rhythm and it's comforting to know that he's going to be right there." And that kind of a rhythm can be all it takes to go from prospect to major leaguer.
The thing that strikes you most about Rhymes is how humble he really is, and how much he truly doesn't want the spotlight. When asked to name one or two of his strong points of his game, he was taken aback. The laid-back Texas boy was content to let his game do the talking, and talk it has so far in his professional career. He's hitting well above .300 and has shown good speed and a knack for clutch hitting out of the lead-off spot. It's easy to see with production like that, the spotlight may never focus on Will Rhymes, but his future is ever so bright.