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How Wil Myers almost became a Red Sox in 2009

In 2009, three years before he emerged as one of the top prospects in the game and potentially one of the most valuable trade chips in baseball, Wil Myers was a North Carolina high schooler getting ready for the draft. And in his eyes, his future was almost certain to unfold with one of two teams: The Royals or the Red Sox [1].

Those were the two teams that seemed to follow him most aggressively throughout his senior season at Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, NC. Red Sox area scout Quincy Boyd (recently promoted by the Sox to regional cross-checker) was a fixture at Myers’ games, but there were other Sox officials who parachuted in to watch him after an impressive performance on the showcase circuit in the summer following his junior year. Regional cross-checker Mike Rikard (now a national cross-checker) loved Myers and thought he would be an impact hitter. Former Red Sox scouting director Jason McLeod became familiar enough to Myers that the outfielder refers to him on a first-name basis.

“I spent quite a bit of time working out for them,” Myers recalled at the All-Star Futures Game of his interactions with the Red Sox heading into the draft. “They came down a couple times and watched me during my high school season, but there were a lot of rainouts. I remember one time when Jason came down, the game got rained out and we actually had to go to an indoor batting center to go work out. That was different.”

According to Myers, only the Royals seemed to harbor an interest level comparable to that of the Red Sox. In the days leading up to the draft, then, it seemed unsurprising that on consecutive days, Myers visited Kauffman Stadium [2] in Kansas City before boarding a flight to Boston and Fenway Park [3] for a memorable encounter with the fabled ballpark.

“I took B.P. by myself, which was awesome. That was so cool,” Myers, a right-handed slugger, recalled of his Fenway experience. “My parents were there and got to come onto the field. One thing I do remember, there were tours going on and they were sitting over the Monster. I remember hitting a couple into the crowd. It was really cool — they all thought I was a Red Sox. It was awesome, one of the coolest experiences I’€™ve ever had.”

Draft day arrived. Myers remembers in precise detail the selection process that unfolded.

“I talked to the Red Sox, my agents had contact with them. Honestly, I thought I was going be picked either 12th by the Royals or 28th — that was the pick that year of the Red Sox,” Myers recalled accurately of where the two teams resided in the first round.

However, neither the Royals nor Sox — both of whom planned to move Myers to catcher for the start of his pro career — used their first-round picks on him. Word circulated that Myers wanted a slot-shattering bonus (in excess of $2 million) in order to pass on his scholarship to the University of South Carolina. The Royals used their first-round selection (No. 12 overall) on right-hander Aaron Crow, and so Myers thought he knew what to expect next.

“When I wasn’€™t picked 12th, I thought I was going to be picked 28th with the Red Sox,” he said.

But when the 28th pick arrived, Myers was surprised to hear the Sox announce their selection of high school outfielder Reymond Fuentes, a player with tremendous athleticism who projected as a potential everyday center fielder and who was willing to sign quickly for the team’s slot-recommended bonus of $1.134 million.

The Royals did not have a second-round pick. The Sox used theirs on a player with whom they had an extensive scouting history and who, again, represented a relatively secure pick both in terms of big league projection (a relevant consideration given that the team was betting on ceiling and upside with Fuentes) and signability in right-hander Alex Wilson.

There’s an excellent chance the Sox would have taken Myers in the third round, but they never had a chance. With the No. 91 overall selection, the Royals tabbed Myers. At pick No. 107, the Sox selected David Renfroe, a two-sport, two-way player whom they hoped would emerge as a power-hitting third baseman. Instead, his career has stalled, who has yet to advance beyond A-ball.

And now, at a time when the Sox and Royals have at least discussed the idea of a trade that would include sending Jon Lester [4] to Kansas City in exchange for a package centered around Myers, the Sox could be forgiven for wondering how different things would look had they taken Myers when they had the chance in 2009. Certainly, the team has watched him flourish from afar, well aware of his minor league exploits, as when he dominated two levels of A-ball as a 19-year-old in 2010 (with a combined .315/.429/.506/.934 line and 14 homers) and then again this year, when he smashed 37 homers (most by a 21-year-old in the minors, according to Baseball America, since 1963) while hitting .314/.387/.600/.987 against older competition in Double-A and Triple-A.

As for Myers’ recollections of how his draft future unfolded in 2009?

“I couldn’€™t be more happy that Kansas City picked me, but Boston is obviously a great organization,” he said. “It would have worked out either way.”