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A handful of players on the roster also played basketball, but Myers, who didn't, immediately stepped forward. "Give me the ball, Coach," he said. Myers missed his first two three-point attempts—then drained 18 straight. "It was my fault we lost, and I wasn't going to be the reason we were going to run," says Myers. "That simple."
By his senior year, with his legend in North Carolina growing, some 600 fans started following the Wesleyan baseball team around the state, their cars forming a river of headlights as they traveled back to High Point after games. When Wesleyan played in nearby Greensboro in the middle of the season, four scouts from the Royals sat behind home plate. Myers crushed three home runs, the last soaring into the top of a 50-foot tree beyond the right-centerfield fence. The scouts hurried out of the stadium, eager to relay their oh-my moment back to Kansas City. "That homer went 420 feet," says Davis. "It was the single most impressive high school home run I've ever seen."
Before the 2009 draft Eric Myers received several calls from major league scouts wanting to know how much money it would take to sign his son. South Carolina coach Tanner—by now well aware that the prodigy was no longer earmarked for Columbia—had initially recommended that Myers not accept anything less than a $1 million signing bonus. But then Tanner saw Myers play in person for the first time, in a summer league game at South Carolina's stadium. After seeing Myers muscle a ball 430 feet over the left centerfield fence, Tanner, according to Davis, called Davis and said, "That number is now $2 million." The Gamecocks' coach then told Eric and Pam Myers, "I appreciate your commitment to South Carolina, but your son will never step foot on this campus."
A few days before the draft, the Royals invited 60 high school and college prospects to Kauffman Stadium for a tryout. Before batting practice, Myers approached J.J. Picollo, the team's assistant general manager. "When are you going to turn on the fountains [beyond the centerfield fence]?" Myers asked.
"Why?" Picollo replied.
"Because I'm going to hit some balls into the water," Myers said. The water never went on, but, with Kansas City's entire front office watching, Myers deposited seven balls over the wall during his 30-pitch session. Four landed in the fountain area.
The Royals took Myers in the third round with the 91st pick, eventually ponying up a $2 million bonus that the commissioner's office recommended for the ninth draft selection. He signed on Aug. 14 and left home the next day. After he hugged his parents and his younger brother, Beau, Myers steered his 1995 Acura Legend toward Burlington, N.C., to join the Royals' rookie league club. Sitting behind the steering wheel, with his childhood in his rearview mirror, tears ran like melted candle wax down Myers's cheeks. This is it, he told himself. My new life is starting right now.
For all his talent, Myers was still something of a revelation. He had a .369/.427/.679 line in 22 games of rookie ball, followed by a .934 OPS in 126 games at two levels of Class A as a 19-year-old. In 2011, after shifting to the outfield, he was off to another solid start with the Double A Northwest Arkansas Naturals, but on Easter Sunday a rainstorm swept through the town of Springdale and canceled the team's game. Myers drove home and, after debating whether to sit in the car and wait out the deluge, sprinted for his apartment. As he ran, he slipped on a concrete sidewalk and his left knee smashed into a brick column at the base of a stairwell. He required two stitches and four staples and missed eight games. Three games after he returned from the injury, he slid into second base and ripped open the scab. An hour later, while in the shower, his knee swelled and stiffened. Myers was diagnosed with a staph infection and the next morning underwent surgery in Kansas City. He was out of the lineup for three weeks.
"When I finally came back, everyone in the league was in midseason form, and I wasn't," Myers says. "For the first time in my life I lost my confidence. And when that happens as a hitter, you're in big, big trouble." Myers finished the season hitting .254, with a slugging percentage under .400 and only eight home runs in 416 plate appearances. Suddenly, he was no longer a can't-miss prospect.
He returned home to High Point for the winter and went to work in Davis's backyard cage. With his old high school coach throwing to him, his timing at the plate—and, swing by swing, his confidence—returned. "Wil started hitting straight back up the middle," says Davis. "He's a rhythm and a feel hitter and he found it again."