Living It Up
Myers stock is climbing as draft nears
Wil Myers can't help but live the good life.
His sizeable 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame is constantly topped off with an ear-splitting grin—and for good reason.
He's inked a letter of intent to play baseball at South Carolina. He's projected as one of the top high school prospects in the 2009 amateur draft.
Such is life for Myers, a senior at Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, N.C.
And is it ever a good life. A hefty scholarship from South Carolina, the excitement of the upcoming draft, and a chance to defend last year's state championship in the North Carolina 3-A high school playoffs for independent schools.
It's not lost on the small-town ball player with big-city talent.
"Any player out there that wouldn't want to be in my situation is crazy," Myers said. "You're in a win-win situation wherever you go; you go to South Carolina you're going to get better, you go pro, you get to go to the major leagues, which has always been my dream."
Myers has burst on the scene in his senior year, becoming a power-hitting catcher and third baseman for the Trojans with 13 home runs in 18 regular season games.
"I guess this year has been kind of good for me," he said. "I've got a lot of good pitches to hit this year, and been doing it in front of some scouts, so it's just a kind of a good situation."
Despite what he says, Myers has been performing since his freshman year, where he was a first-year starter and all-state selection for Wesleyan.
Myers was batting sixth in the order in the state playoffs his freshman year. The opposing team intentionally walked the fifth batter to load the bases and bring up the freshman.
That turned out to be a bad decision. Myers laced a three-run double—and he would only get better behind the plate.
Myers was a late-bloomer as a power hitter. He said he didn't actually hit a high school home run until his junior year—and even then he only had three. But he's making up for lost time in his senior season.
Formerly a pull-hitter, Myers now hits bombs to all fields—he said that six of his home runs this year have been opposite-field shots, and his coach, Scott Davis, lauds his patience at the plate.
"He's not getting himself out this year," Davis said. "He takes his base on balls, which is considerable, and he seems to be swinging on good pitches. He's only had maybe three bad swings all year."
Davis describes Myers as a five-tool player—and he's certainly put every baseball skill on display thus far. His athleticism behind the plate has pro scouts jumping at the gun to sign him, and he could play either corner infield position or the outfield in college—and he's also got a Division I arm with a fastball that sits around 90 mph.
"He's not a polished pitcher," Davis said. "He's a guy that you say 'Wil I need five innings out of you today' and he'll go out there and throw you five shutout innings against anybody in the state."
This season, he's pitched 13 innings without giving up a run, and has allowed only five hits.
While Myers has played all over the field for Wesleyan, his future in the pros will be behind the plate.
"I mean you're looking at a catcher, at 6-2, 200 pounds, that runs like a darn deer, has got aggressiveness and instinct on the bases that you can't teach," Davis said. "That's why the pros like him, because catchers don't possess those skills"
Myers said he prefers being behind the plate as well.
"Because I'm a little A.D.D. I guess you'd say, I like to be involved the whole time," Myers said. "It helps me stay in the game. I like to call the game, I like for people to steal on me, see if I can throw them out."
When he talks about playing catcher, it becomes apparent that his passion for the game borders on addiction.
Myers plays constantly—on off days, he'll head over to Davis' house and hit in the cages in the backyard. He can't remember a year where he didn't play baseball for 10 months out of the year.
His biggest hobby? Wiffle Ball tournaments in Lexington, N.C. His team has won the last six they've entered.
Point out that Myers' can't play baseball (or something like it) all the time, and he flashes a sheepish grin and says "I know," with a twinge of regret.
Myers' love of the game is so strong that all the attention and hoopla surrounding a top high school prospect hasn't fazed him. During games, he'll chat up the umpire or point out friends in the stands. Before and after each game, he'll chat up whatever scouts are there. He doesn't get upset much at games—it's too much fun to play.
"I know in baseball, if you get a big head about whatever you're doing and stuff you're going to go straight down," he said. "So you have to stay humble and play in the game."
That attitude has caught the eye of Myers' coaches and teachers as well.
"Wil doesn't blow his own horn," Davis said. "A lot of people may not even know the type of player this kid is, and the hoopla that surrounds him because Wil's not going to go out and tell anybody."
And why would he? Myers is too busy living the good life.