It takes a lot to become a professional in any career path. Becoming a professional athlete is among the most difficult. It requires you to be elite, among the best of the best at playing a sport in which thousands of kids every year are trying to make the jump. Case Williams, may not be a name you’ve heard of right now, but the Colorado Rockies fourth-round pick, is prepared to show you that he is more than ready to make the jump from high school to the pros.
Williams was picked by his hometown – and favorite – team fresh off graduating from Douglas County High School in Castle Rock, Colorado (about an hour south of Denver).
“It’s crazy. Like it feels right, but it doesn’t at the same time. It’s just unbelievable and it just feels right. Like how the story should go and it’s just so great,” Williams said.
Williams has been among the best – named the best by Max Preps – 2020 high school player in Colorado. He had an 8-1 record with 79 strikeouts in 50.1 innings while sporting a 1.81 ERA that has a full no-hitter to be the cherry on top of his spectacular 2019 season. According to some of his past teammates, he’s only gotten better, even without a 2020 spring baseball season.
Patrick Kennedy, a sophomore pitcher at Cloud County Community College, has been working out with Williams at THROWformance amid the pandemic and the spring season being canceled.
“[He’s] one of the hardest-working kids I know and that he got drafted is well deserved on his part. Like nobody ever sees these kids other than getting drafted. No one sees the hard work that they put in and this kid really worked his tail off and since quarantine, I think he’s picked up 4 miles per hour with our coach,” Kennedy said.
His work ethic is something that was brought up repeatedly by his former teammates as something that was among his greatest strengths as a player.
“Absolutely. Just knowing him, he’s not going to stop. He’s not going to stop that work ethic, he’s going to keep that up. He’s somebody that you would rely on and know that he’s going to get better for you,” Grayson Gifford, a former teammate for two seasons, said.
According to the most recent scouting reports, Williams throws 88-92, but according to Kennedy, “He was sitting about 93-95 in one of his most recent bullpens.” What’s more important, particularly to pitchers in Colorado, is how he’s developed his offspeed pitches and Williams has made it a point to continue to develop his offspeed pitches.
“The fastball has definitely developed over even just this fall and winter. I’ve really been able to develop my changeup and curveball as well. I barely had a changeup as a pitch a little bit ago, but then I’ve gotten that going and then the curveball’s been working really well,” Williams said.
— Sean McCourt (@THROWformance) May 15, 2020
His confidence in his offspeed pitches should come as a great sense of hope for Rockies fans given he’s been pitching at high altitude his whole life. A good curveball at high altitude despite the so-called “Coors effect” is one that hitters should be worried about, or as Grayson more eloquently explains, “he shouldn’t have an excuse, but when he goes down to sea level, he will really work it when he’s on a lower altitude. He works it at high altitude, but he can do it at low altitude for sure.”
Colorado as a whole isn’t scouted as highly as other places such as Florida, Texas, and California for sports, especially for baseball for generally one of two reasons. It’s either that those places can play all year-round or the “Coors effect”. For his teammates and players around the state, Case’s story comes as an inspiration.
“It’s amazing. It’s great news for me. Being a teammate of his and being alongside him for a few years gives me a lot of confidence as a player that my dreams can come true as well and it’s really great news to me. Not only that a good friend of mine got drafted but that I potentially, if I work hard enough, could get drafted myself,” Kennedy explained.
According to both Kennedy and Gifford, Williams is setting himself up to be next in line of impressive and inspiring stories of Colorado athletes to reach the highest levels. He’s drawn comparisons to current Rockies pitcher Kyle Freeland and for Patrick, Derrick White.
Gifford explained the similarities between the new draft pick and the former 2014 pick by saying, “I’d honestly argue that Case was the better pitcher [in high school] for sure. He went from someone who was good to great like that all because of his work ethic. When you look at a hometown kid like Kyle Freeland, who the Rockies were able to see over time and knew about, you think of Case that way too. You look at a kid that went up, you know, 10 mph in a year. Gotten into the best shape he can and works his tail off. There are a lot of similarities. He really fits the system for they need and he can potentially rise up to be like Kyle Freeland is.”
Kennedy, who’s known White for years, recalled Derrick’s story and said, “yeah, and he’s actually got a similar story to Derrick White. Say a year ago nobody really knew of Case Williams. Dude just worked his butt off and just developed late similar to Derrick and now look where he’s at. I see a lot of similarities between the two.” For the full story of Derrick White, click here.
Whether you know about Case Williams or not, you certainly will. A player who is “hard-working, determined, and just a competitor on the mound.” A player whose first sentence to me was that he just wanted to “bring back a World Series ring.” The type of player and person that will be easy to cheer for as he makes his way through the minor league system. One day, he will make his debut in the stadium of his favorite team, wearing his favorite team’s colors. A Colorado kid stays home.
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