THE NEWEST NATIONAL
First, kudos to Willems, who has shown that, like Ryan Zimmerman before him, money is important, but is certainly isn't everything. He probably could have squeezed a few more ducats out of Jim Bowden and Dana Brown, but he realized that being on the field, and not at the bank, would enhance his potential as a professional ballplayer.
Willems, only 17, was listed as the sixth best high school pitcher in this year's draft. Over the past two seasons at John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce, he amassed a 13-3 record with a 1.18 ERA. Unbelievably, he allowed only thirty-three hits in over 100 innings in his junior and senior year. He has a moving fastball that averages 92-93 mph but can touch 97 when needed. His "heater" was ranked third best among high school pitchers. The problem, however, with having such a devastating fastball in high school is that you don't need any other pitches, and as a result, his curve and other off speed pitches need a lot of work. His slider will in time be his #2 pitch, with his curve a distant third. Luckily, he has "pinpoint" control, so once those other pitchers catch up to his fastball, he will be able to dominate the opposition.
At this point, Willems is slated to be a #3 starter in the major leagues, and needs about four years to get there. So, with luck, he'll appear at the new park sometime in 2010. Now, all of this sounds wonderful, but remember, there are three guys at Class 'A' Potomac that came into the profession with similar press clippings, perhaps even better, and have struggled mightily thus far. Will Willems follow a fast path to Washington, or will he struggle like Colin Balestar, Mike Hinkley and Clint Everts?
Time will tell.
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