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Rox may have uncovered a local gem in Williams

@harding_at_mlb
June 12, 2020

DENVER -- Ask those who know about Colorado high school baseball and right-hander Case Williams of Castle Rock’s Douglas County High School is a big deal -- no matter what the prospect lists didn’t say about him. The hometown Rockies recognized just that when they selected Williams -- who didn’t

DENVER -- Ask those who know about Colorado high school baseball and right-hander Case Williams of Castle Rock’s Douglas County High School is a big deal -- no matter what the prospect lists didn’t say about him.

The hometown Rockies recognized just that when they selected Williams -- who didn’t show up on the MLB Pipeline's Top 200 Draft Prospects or even the Baseball America Top 500 -- in the fourth round of the MLB Draft on Thursday.

Draft Tracker: Complete pick-by-pick coverage | 2020 Draft Central

Williams, who has committed to Santa Clara, said his fastball reached 96 mph last July and he kept working. Video from THROWformance, a baseball and softball academy in Castle Rock, showed the work Williams has done, not only on the fastball …

… but his curveball

He might have been discovered by a wider audience had the high school season not been halted because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the Rockies knew and acted. Hope among fans in the Rocky Mountains is that when the baseball world discovers Williams, he’ll be turning heads with the hometown Rockies.

“I was fighting through it with just being able to use video,” Williams said. “I had just always been working hard for Santa Clara. It just happened to be that this opportunity came about, and here we are.

“I did hit 96 last summer in July. But I was able to truly build upon what I already had as a good base, and over the winter I was working out and focusing on what I truly needed to do to get to where I am. It’s really helped. I’m super excited to get it in games because I haven’t been able to get it in games since October.”

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Williams’ work during the fall was a key.

Williams competed with the Rockies Fall Scout Team, run by senior director of scouting operations Marc Gustafson and assistant director of scouting operations Sterling Monfort. They not only worked with Williams between the lines, but they saw his intangibles. Also, vice president of scouting Bill Schmidt saw Williams operate with calm during last summer’s Area Code Games -– a major evaluation event in Long Beach, Calif.

“If you ever went there, you’d see maybe 500 scouts sitting behind home plate, with [radar] guns,” Schmidt said. “It can be a little bit intimidating. But it didn’t faze him.”

During MLB Network's Draft broadcast, analysts knew who Williams was, but they didn’t have the full goods on him.

“What we saw on the broadcast, some of the information that was talked about or is on some of the websites is just a little bit outdated,” Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said. “When you have great scouts and people that are in touch with every area, but especially here at home, you have the most up-to-date and recent information, and you feel you know the kid really well.”

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This may be a case of Williams making the most of an awful situation for the world in general and baseball in particular. Without school, and without whatever stresses come with a competitive season, Williams did the work. He’s listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds.

And, man, the video from his facility was impressive.

“It was very tough dealing with at the time, and just truly figuring it out, but I was able to make a bad situation better by just working out and truly bettering my craft for the future,” Williams said.

A lifelong Rockies fan, Williams said he has been to games at Coors Field six times, and he played last year in the Colorado High School Futures Baseball Game. While there is the commitment to Santa Clara, the Draft slot of the 110th pick is valued at $527,800.

Beyond the dollar signs, there is the dream of pitching at Coors, like Denver Thomas Jefferson High product and left-handed rotation member Kyle Freeland.

“We were all just sitting there watching and I got a call, and I started to tear up, as well as my dad,” Williams said. “It was kind of quiet, just me, my mom, dad, sister and dog. We were all in the family room seeing what would happen. It was just three picks away. It felt like forever, and it happened. It was so unbelievable. It didn’t feel real.”

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.