After Wednesday night’s draft, Bill Schmidt told reporters, “Nothing ever surprises me anymore.” On Thursday, the Rockies did some surprising themselves.
In the fourth round of the MLB draft, the Rockies selected Case Williams, a right-handed pitcher from Castle Rock and senior from Douglas County High School. Williams is 6-foot-3, 210-pounds and was rated as the top right-handed pitcher in Colorado by both Perfect Game and Prep Baseball Report. He went 14-2 with a 2.98 ERA (94.0 IP, 31 ER) and 134 strikeouts across his high school career, including 8-1 with a 1.81 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 2019.
A relative unknown on the national stage, Williams was not on Baseball America’s Top 500 list, nor was he on MLB.com’s list of Top 200 Prospects. But the selection had Rockies fans wondering if the Rockies had found a right-handed Kyle Freeland.
On Thursday night, Williams spoke with media about his baseball career and relationship with the Rockies.
“I’ve always been a Rockies fan,” Williams said. “I’m just super grateful for getting this opportunity to represent my hometown, bleed the purple. I’m just super excited for what’s to come and what I can do with the Rockies.” As a fan, Williams estimated that he’s been to Coors around six times.
“It’s just a great atmosphere to be a part of, a great park,” he said. However, he threw off the mound at Coors when he participated in the Futures Game last summer.
“I just can’t wait to take my career there,” he said. “That’s the goal.”
Williams was a relatively unknown player nationally whose throwing speed improved in the summer of 2019.
“I did hit 96 last summer, I think in July,” he said. “I think I was able to truly build upon what I already had as a good base. Over the winter, I was working out and focusing on what I truly needed to do to get where I am. I think it’s really helped, and I’m super excited to get into games because I haven’t been able to play a game since October.”
Williams used the off time during the pandemic suspension to improve and get bigger.
“It was very tough dealing with at the time and truly figuring it out,” he said, “but I was able to make a bad situation better by working out and truly bettering my craft for the future.”
“It was pretty unexpected, honestly,” Williams said of being drafted. “I watched last night and then went to bed not knowing that I would be in the situation I’m in now. We were just all watching it together, and the call came across, and it just escalated, and we are here now, and it was just really exciting to see that.”
That call came as a surprise.
“We were all just sitting there, watching, and I got a call,” he said, “and I started to tear up as well as my dad. It was kind of quiet. It was just me, my mom, dad, sister, and dog. We were all just sitting in the family room, seeing what would happen, and it’s just the anticipation of three picks away — felt like forever — and it happened, and it was just so unbelievable, and it didn’t feel real, really.”
Because he’s local, Williams is confident of his ability to pitch at elevation, though he doesn’t think that’s the only reason the Rockies selected him.
“I think it could be a reason,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the sole reason, but it obviously helps, being experienced with the altitude and non-altitude as well, so I think that helped the decision.”
“I’ve always been working hard for Santa Clara [University, where he was committed],” he continued, “and it just happened to be that this opportunity came about, and here we are.”
Williams remains uncertain of his plans in terms of signing with the Rockies or attending Santa Clara.
“I just have to figure it out right now,” Williams said. “Everything’s super crazy and unbelievable, and I’m super grateful for the opportunity, so I’ll talk it over with my family, and we’ll get that figured out.”