Luke's Davis coaches phenom
Larry Thomas -- Furniture Today, March 4, 2013
HIGH POINT - When Luke Leather President Scott Davis isn't tinkering with a sofa design, discussing a deal with one of his sales reps, or visiting a factory in Italy that makes the company's leather upholstery, there's a good chance you'll find him at the batting cage he built in his back yard.
That's because baseball has become a second career for Davis, who will soon begin his 11th season as baseball coach at High Point's Wesleyan Christian Academy.
Under Davis' leadership, Wesleyan has become one of the top private school baseball programs in North Carolina - the Trojans won state championships in 2008 and 2010 - thanks in part to his batting cage.
The cage garnered plenty of attention recently in a Sports Illustrated article profiling Wesleyan alum Wil Myers, who played for Davis from 2006 to 2009 and is now the top minor league prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
"This kid is the real deal. There's no doubt he'll be in the major leagues next season," Davis said.
In the Sports Illustrated article, Davis is quoted extensively about Myers' hitting prowess. He described how Myers honed his skills at the backyard cage - regularly attracting crowds of neighbors who were amazed how hard he could hit the ball.
"(Sports Illustrated writer Lars Anderson) called me to talk about Wil, and then decided he wanted to come visit us," Davis recalled. "He wound up spending two days here in December."
Myers is the third of Davis' former players to be drafted by a major league team, but would be the first to make it to the big leagues. One of his draftees, 2008 graduate Michael Dimock, is a pitcher in the Houston Astros farm system, while 2005 graduate Wes Wrenn pitched in the New York Mets farm system and recently was named pitching coach at the University of South Carolina- Upstate.
Davis, like many baseball writers and others who follow the game closely, was baffled when Myers was traded to the Rays in early December by the Kansas City Royals, the team that drafted him shortly after his 2009 high school graduation.
All Myers did last season was compile a .314 batting average, 37 home runs and 109 RBI in 134 games in AA and AAA - the two highest levels of minor league baseball. According to Sports Illustrated, his home run total was the highest by a 21-year-old in the high minors in nearly 50 years.
That earned the 6-2, 216- pound outfielder the prestigious minor league "player of the year" award from Baseball America magazine.
But the Royals, who last made the playoffs five years before Myers was born, needed starting pitching. So Myers became was part of a six-player trade with the Rays that gave the Royals a pair of solid major league pitchers.
"The (Kansas City) general manager is trying to win now, and he felt as if the team needed some arms," Davis said. "I understand all that ... but if I were him, I'm not sure I'd want to be remembered as the guy who traded Wil Myers."
Davis, an infielder for Louisburg Junior College and North Carolina State in his playing days, discovered what might be a small sliver lining in the trade. If the Rays assign Myers to their AAA team at the beginning of the season, he would play for the Durham (N.C.) Bulls, whose stadium is less than two hours from Davis' house.
But he is convinced Myers can play in the majors when the season opens in April. And if he is assigned to AAA, he doesn't think Myers will be there more than a month or two.
"I've talked to a lot of college coaches and a lot of pro scouts about Wil," he said. "I have no doubt he can hit major league pitching."