Baseball Prospect Journal

Kendall Williams pleased with growth this year

Kendall Williams Perfect Game

Kendall Williams will toe the rubber for the final time in his high school career Wednesday. The IMG Academy right-handed pitcher has had a strong spring in a critical period of his young career.

Williams is a well-regarded prep prospect for June’s MLB draft and could be a first-round pick.

Since the fall, Williams and three of his teammates have sat down with about 25 major league teams in preparation for the draft. He even met with the Washington Nationals on Monday afternoon.

IMG Academy consistently produces high-end prospects. Besides Williams, right-hander Brennan Malone, third baseman Rece Hinds and shortstop Josh Rivera could all hear their names called in the early rounds of the draft.

“It’s a really cool opportunity to be able to go through that with all of them,” said Williams, a Vanderbilt commit.

Williams, a 6-foot-6, 208-pound righty, throws from a high three-quarter arm slot and has a repertoire consisting of a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, changeup and breaking pitch.

His fastball sits in the mid-90s. He throws his two-seamer on the inside half of the plate to right-handed batters and on the outer half to lefty hitters.

He originally threw a 12-6 curveball, but as he’s gained arm strength and continued to refine the offering, it’s developed more into a slider. He varies the way he throws the breaking pitch, depending on the count and batter he’s facing, he said.

He knows how to attack hitters with his deep arsenal of pitches. He’s improved his changeup this spring, which was a goal of his entering the season.

“Two out of my last three starts, it’s been my out pitch,” Williams said. “It’s gotten substantially better. I’m throwing it a little harder and with more confidence in any count I want. It has good depth on both sides.”

Williams transferred to IMG Academy before his sophomore season and has become a “more polished pitcher” over the last three years, he said.

He has focused solely on pitching this spring. He’s posted a 5-0 record with a 1.05 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 40 innings (nine appearances). He has allowed six earned runs, 14 walks and one home run.

One of his best starts came against a talented Blessed Trinity team on April 4 in the National High School Invitational. He struck out 10 batters and allowed one earned run, five hits and one walk in six innings. He threw 74.5 percent of his pitches for strikes in front of a plethora of major league executives and scouts.

“It was a great atmosphere,” Williams said. “That was one of the ones I was looking forward to. I’m happy with how it went, especially with a lot of important people there.”

Williams and Malone teamed up for the first time at IMG Academy this season, after Malone relocated from North Carolina to Bradenton, Florida for his senior year. It allowed the two prep hurlers to learn and push one another, Williams said.

Malone also is one of the top prep right-handed pitching prospects and should go in the first round of this year’s draft. 

“I’m actually super excited that I got him down here, and he was on my team,” Williams said. “We got to go through all of this together. We push each other in the weight room, classroom and on the field.”

READ: Kendall Williams’ dedication paying off

READ: 2019 MLB Draft: Profiles on top prospects

Video of Kendall Williams

Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

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