When the Milwaukee Brewers entered the 2013 season with Kyle Lohse on the team, it came with a sacrifice. That sacrifice was their first-round draft pick and with it the potential to pluck a talented player who scouts and talent evaluators agree is in the upper tier of what is available. Or at least, that’s what they assumed.
Fortunately for the Brewers, a player with a first-round grade in their opinion (as well as the opinion of some respected voices in the prospect game), inexplicably fell to them in the second round. Harvey Kuenn, Jr, who works that area of the country for the Brewers, identified this player as someone who he felt was worth even that lost first-round pick. The Brewers graded him highly enough that they didn’t think he’d get to them but when their turn was coming and it was getting closer, you could almost feel the anticipation in the room.
Don’t misunderstand. I wasn’t there. But 2013 was when the Brewers allowed FoxSports Wisconsin (their TV affiliate) to enter the draft room and prepare a 30-minute show to give fans a taste of what it was like. As that drama unfolded, it made for compelling TV. It was fun to watch the decision makers get their guy.
So who is he? Well, the information on the internet can tell us that he’s a 6’3″ right-handed pitcher out of Hazelwood West High School in Hazelwood, Missouri. He’s 20 years old and was listed at 165 pounds. I could give you stats and tell you how he performed on the field in his one and a half professional seasons.
But who is he? I wanted to find out more so Devin and I, with an assist from his agency the Beverly Hills Sports Council (@BHSCouncil), traded emails. Below are my questions and his responses.
BrewerNation: What or who first got you into playing baseball?
My grandpa was the first person to introduce me to the game. We were always in the backyard playing catch or at the batting cages. He definitely played a big part in my love for the game. I owe him a lot.
BN: When did you first realize that baseball could be a career for you?
DW: Probably the summer after my sophomore year of high school. I started focusing on strictly pitching & I started to get some attention from pro scouts after all of the showcases and tournaments I had done over the summer.
BN: Leading up to draft day, what were your expectations both in terms of when you might go in the draft and who had shown interest in drafting you?
DW: I was expecting to be picked in the first two rounds based on what I had heard. I had in-home meetings with all but four MLB teams so I knew there was some high interest. I actually wasn’t expecting to be picked by the Brewers since I hadn’t really heard much from them throughout the whole process.
BN: What was it like when your phone rang with the news that you had been drafted? Who did you speak to and what was the conversation like?
DW: It was the best feeling in the world up to that point in my life. I just felt like all those bullpens and training sessions had finally paid off. I was with my whole family and some of my close friends when I got the call telling me that the Brewers were going to take me, but I didn’t let any of them know because I didn’t want to jinx it. When it came up on TV that the Brewers had picked me they all started screaming and ran over to hug me. My mom hugged me and was crying when she told me how proud she was. I’ll never forget that moment.
BN: Any initial thoughts on it being the Brewers as a lifelong Cardinals fan?
DW: I get this question a lot. I didn’t even think twice about it. I was just happy to get a chance to play professionally, no matter who it was. The fact that the Cardinals had two chances to pick me & passed on me both times is just a little more motivation for me to beat them when I get my opportunity, maybe steal a couple division titles from them.
BN: What went into making the decision to sign after being drafted instead of attending college?
DW: I knew that day that I was going to sign, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity that was in front of me. I was really close with coach Kerrick Jackson at Mizzou and still am to this day, when he called me the next day he just congratulated me and wished me luck in my first season. He also made sure to let me know that it was only the beginning of the road & to not stop improving on my game.
BN: With a full professional season under your belt, what have you improved on in your game and as a person?
DW: I think the biggest improvements have come with the command of my pitches, I can spot up a lot better now compared to when I first signed. As a person, I would say my mental game has taken a big step, not focusing on the things that are out of my control & staying focused on what I need to do to get the next batter out.
BN: Do you still think going pro was the right choice?
DW: Definitely, I have no regrets. I got to start my career a few years earlier than most and I think that will help me in the long haul.
BN: What have you been focusing on this off-season?
DW: I’ve mostly been working on the overall strength of my body, trying to gain some weight. Also, trying to strengthen my shoulder to be ready for my first year with a full season team.
BN: What are your professional goals, if any specific, for 2015?
DW: My first goal is to make our Low-A team out of spring training. After that my hope is to pitch well enough to make the All-Star game for the Midwest League. That’d be pretty cool. Most importantly I want to finish this season healthy.
BN: Give us a baseball scouting report on Devin Williams. What pitches do you throw? Velo? What’s your best? What are you still developing?
DW: I throw a four-seam fastball, circle changeup, and a slider. On a good day my fastball will sit in the low 90’s possibly touching some mid 90’s. Your fastball is always suppose to be your best pitch but my favorite is the changeup. That’s definitely my best weapon. I’ve been working on a curve a little bit this off-season just to add a little something extra to my repertoire.
BN: Give a personal scouting report on Devin Williams. What makes you tick? What are your off-the-field interests?
DW: I just like to relax and hang out with friends & family, and play some video games (FIFA to be specific).
BN: What is a typical day like as a minor leaguer when it’s not your day to pitch?
DW: Lots of working out & conditioning, along with throwing your side pen in between starts, & doing the game charts before you pitch. Other than that there’s a lot of sitting around and watching the game, which can be helpful if you pay attention because you get to study the hitters and their tendencies before you face them. That’s a big thing for me because at the lower levels of the minor leagues you don’t really get much of a scouting report on the hitters.
It certainly sounds like Devin Williams is poised to take the next step in his career development which would be a great thing for the Brewers. I’m personally looking forward to heading up to Appleton this year to catch one of his starts in person.
Hopefully you got to know a little more about one of the Brewers’ consensus top prospects. I know I did.
Thank you again, Devin, for taking time out of your schedule to answer my questions.
Be sure you follow Devin on Twitter as well: @DTrainn_23
BREWERS SELECT RIGHT-HANDED PITCHER DEVIN WILLIAMS AND INFIELDER TUCKER NEUHAUS ON DAY 1 OF 2013 FIRST-YEAR PLAYER DRAFT
The Milwaukee Brewers tonight selected RHP Devin Williams from Hazelwood West (MO) High School in the second round (54th overall) of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft and drafted INF Tucker Neuhaus out of Wharton (FL) High School with the 72nd overall selection (Competitive Balance Round B). Milwaukee forfeited its first round selection for signing right-handed pitcher Kyle Lohse as a free agent.
Williams, 18, went 6-1 with a 1.02 ERA and one save in nine games as a senior at Hazelwood West (MO) High School. He struck out 93 batters and allowed just 17 hits over 48 innings pitched in 2013, limiting opponents to a .102 batting average. Williams, who was aRawlings/Perfect Game Preseason First-Team All America selection, has a commitment to play baseball at the University of Missouri. Neuhaus, 17, missed the majority of the season due to injuries. He has a commitment to the University of Louisville.
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft, which is comprised of 40 rounds, will continue tomorrow at noon CT for Rounds 3-10. The Draft will resume on Saturday for Rounds 11-40 at noon CT and will continue through its conclusion.
Hometown: Florissant, Missouri
School: Hazelwood (MO) West High School
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6-3 Weight: 170
Born: September 21, 1994
INF Tucker Neuhaus
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
School: Wharton (FL) High School
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 6-3 Weight: 195
Born: June 18, 1995