Nationals' Prospect Deion Williams Transitions To The Mound With Auburn Doubledays

Auburn Doubledays' starter Deion Williams was drafted as a shortstop, but he's pitching now. - Photo © Jeremy Houghtaling

Drafted as shortstop out Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Georgia with the 487th pick in the 16th Round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Deion Williams has transitioned to the mound and is pitching for the Auburn Doubledays now. Doubledays beat writer Jeremy Houghtaling talked to the 20-year-old prospect.

The conversation changed the course of Deion Williams' career.

Williams, an infielder drafted in the 16th round of the 2011 draft by the Washington Nationals, struggled through his first season in the Gulf Coast League and was taken aside by members of the Nationals organization for some shocking news.

"They felt that my ceiling would be higher as a pitcher, they liked my arm. I was all for it," Williams said of the position change. "We have a great group of guys and we have a great staff. They're going to do what is best for you. Ever since I was drafted, they've always done that, they've always done what's best for me. I can trust them."

After two brief relief appearances in the GCL in 2012, Williams landed a spot in the starting rotation for the Auburn Doubledays this season. Like any 20-year-old in the New York-Penn League -- infielder, pitcher or otherwise -- Williams’ aim is to continue to develop his game.

"They just said 'Throw as hard as you can, give us what you've got,'" Williams said. "That's what I did." - Deion Williams on transitioning to pitching

"Even to this day, I'm still learning," Williams said. "I haven't got things figured out yet. I'm still learning the best way to be the best starting pitcher I can be." Williams, drafted out of Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., estimated that he pitched about four innings in his varsity career.

"They just said 'Throw as hard as you can, give us what you've got,'" Williams said. "That's what I did."

Williams, the son and grandson of former pro players Dion Williams and George Scott, focused on his pursuits away from the mound, and believed he was ready to start his professional career out of high school.

"I was ready to play baseball for the rest of my life, that's what I've been dreaming of since I was a little kid," Williams said. "When the opportunity comes like that, you have to take it."

"Deion makes it easy. He's very coachable and he listens to everything you tell him and he's going to do it to the best of his ability..." - Doubledays pitching coach Sam Narron

Although it hasn’t started the way he imagined, Williams embraced the position change to keep his career moving forward. Williams credited the Nationals organization and its staff for the smooth transition.

Because of Williams’ lack of previous experience toeing the rubber, Auburn pitching coach Sam Narron described him as a 'blank slate.’

"Deion makes it easy," Narron said. "He's very coachable and he listens to everything you tell him and he's going to do it to the best of his ability and try like heck to get it down."

Although Williams has gone 0-4 with an 8.44 ERA in five starts with the Doubledays, Narron is pleased with the 6-3, 190-pound right-hander's progress. Over 16 innings, Williams has allowed 22 hits, seven walks and 15 earned runs. He has struck out 14.

"If you would have seen where he was earlier in the year compared to now, he's made some great strides," Narron said. "Obviously, there's still some work to be done there." But Narron is most impressed with Williams' attitude about the change. "To come in and be able to take it in stride like he did and want to do it like he has is a tribute to him," Narron said.

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