HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - To cap off an unforgettable year for William Carey baseball, junior infielder Tyler James was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 2017 MLB Draft.
It took 25 rounds and 750 picks, but James' childhood dream was finally realized.
"It's been a dream actually since I was about six years old," James said. "I've always watched Derek Jeter and I was like, 'Man, I want to be like those guys.' I've been playing since I was five [years old]. Right then I was like, 'I love this game. I want to do this forever.'"
James is the first former Crusader to be drafted in the major leagues since Terry Johnson was picked up by the New York Mets in the 34th round of the 2007 MLB Draft.
The most notable William Carey product to have success in professional baseball is John Stephenson. Stephenson was a catcher in the majors from 1964-73, playing for the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and California Angels.
Playing for an NAIA school with just over 4,000 students, James is just another example that it doesn't matter where you play but how you play.
"Since the day I signed [at William Carey], coach [Bobby] Halford always said, 'You got a good chance. All you have to do is work. That's why I signed you, man. You can play,'" James said. "I said, 'Yes sir.' Going to a small school I thought it would be tough but if I worked hard enough, it would all work itself out."
James' work this season must have opened the eyes of Kansas City scouts.
The Slidell, Louisiana native batted .276 with 60 hits, stole a team-high 46 bases and scored a team-high 71 runs for the Crusaders in 2017.
As James travels to Arizona for Royals mini-camp, his approach to the game hasn't changed.
"Just continue to do what I do," James said. "Run fast, hit the ball on the ground, get on base and steal some bags. Just because you got drafted doesn't mean you don't have to work. Still have to work. The same mentality I did in college: Play hard, play fast."