TEMPE, Ariz. -- "It was pretty crazy."
Achieving a life-long dream usually is, and it was certainly no exception for Arizona State pitcher Trevor Williams.
Earlier this month, the Miami Marlins made the talented right-hander the 44th overall pick in the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft. His selection could mark the end of his successful Sun Devil career and the beginning of the next chapter of the San Diego native's life.
Despite a strong collegiate career and his pitching talent, the afternoon of June 6th was nevertheless filled with tense moments for Williams. Like so many high school and college players around the nation, Williams waited anxiously to hear his name called, a situation made more challenging by a few false start phone calls.
"A team would call a few picks before and say ‘Hey, we might pick you here. We’ll wait and see what happens.’", Williams remembers. "Then another team would say ‘We’re picking you in a few picks.’ There were some teams that didn’t get the chance because the Marlins came in and picked out of the blue."
And out of the blue it was. While Williams had talked with a number of big league clubs in the weeks leading up to the draft, his eventual home was not one of them.
"I was in contact with a few other teams about who I might get picked by and where I might go," said Williams. "The Marlins were kind of out of nowhere. They picked me without a phone call or anything. It was an exciting experience."
Being the 44th overall pick fell right into the middle of the range that Williams expected he would go. Scouts felt that his combination of a low 90s fastball, sharp curve, and developing slider and changeup could potentially earn a late first round grade at the top end, with the third round at the latest. That made for an interesting viewing party at home.
"There was really a ballpark, from what I was hearing, of anywhere between 26th and 70," Williams said. "That’s a big area to go around. It was just me, my family and a few friends, and we just gathered around the TV to just wait it out and see where my life would take me."
On Wednesday, Williams announced on his Twitter account that he had come to terms with the Marlins. Joe Frisaro, writer for Marlins.com, says that Williams would initially report to the low-Class A Greensboro Grasshoppers of the South Atlantic League.
William future club has rightfully earned its share of criticism for their moves this past offseason. The Marlins dumped most of their quality players in trades, dropping their payroll from over $118-million down to under $40-million. Yet while the Marlins are currently posting the worst record in the majors, Williams sees this as an opportunity that could lead to the big leagues sooner than in other places.
"They are in a rebuilding stage. They have won a few World Series fairly recently," said Williams of the 1997 and 2003 World Series champions. "They are rebuilding, and they do need pitching. It will give me an opportunity to move up quickly, and to try to help them rebuild to the place that they were before."
While Williams was the first Sun Devil taken in this month's draft, one of his teammates became the feel-good story of not just the MLB Draft, but the entire year in sports.
Cory Hahn, who was paralyzed after a tragic accident while attempting to slide into second base, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 34th round. The team hopes to ultimately get Hahn into a front office or scouting role. It was a remarkably classy move that Williams is happy he got to see.
"It was a great feeling. It was great of the Diamondbacks to do that, and it was also a great day for Cory," said Williams. "He deserves it, and he deserves exactly what the Diamondbacks did for him. I hope he continues, and I hope he accepts the job that they’re offering him. There’s talk of him returning back to school, and he says he’s going to hold out until the very end to see if he signs or not (laughs). He’s enjoying the moment while he’s got it. I can’t thank the Diamondbacks enough for doing that for him, and I’m sure that Cory is forever grateful."
With a professional career just ahead, Williams is also taking some time to reflect upon his time as a Sun Devil.
As for this past year, Williams is pleased with the team exceeding expectations and some young stars emerging, but felt there were still things that were left unfinished, both as a team and his own performance.
"We made a regional when we were not projected to make a regional. We won some huge series, and we didn’t get swept all year, which is a huge plus. Overall, it was OK, but anything less than a national championship is a disappointment. I felt like I didn’t live up to the expectations that I put up for myself before the year. We also had a bunch of other guys step up to fill the void. (Ryan) Kellogg stepped up this year. Ryan Burr stepped up this year. It’s awesome that guys have stepped up to the table and brought me up with them."
Both Kellogg and Burr earned freshman All-American honors, and with that duo leading the way, Williams sees a formidable pitching staff coming in 2014.
"We’re going to be very dominant," said Williams. "We’ve got Brett Lilek, if he’s healthy and back, he’ll be dominating. We’ve got Kellogg leading the way. We’ve got Burr. If they decide to start him next year, he’ll be another dominant force. Especially with Coach Ken Knutson, we’re always going to have a shutdown force in the bullpen, as well as our starting pitchers. We have so many guys waiting to break out and have a great season."
Over his years in Tempe, Williams and his teammates have faced a number of challenges, including NCAA sanctions and the resulting dismissal of highly successful head coach Pat Murphy. Despite the struggles, Williams feels they were ultimately a positive.
"Over the past three or four years, the guys that have been here have been through a lot of stuff," Williams said. "We had the NCAA sanctions, we had a coaching change, then we had one of our teammates and brothers getting hurt. Aside from that affecting us on the field, I think that has grown us all into men. Once we take a step back from baseball, we have grown so much as brothers in what teams usually don’t go through. We have dealt with a lot of adversity, and we have acted accordingly."
Now a pro, Williams will not be around to see the next major phase of Sun Devil baseball come to fruition.
Beginning in 2015, ASU will move their home field off campus from Packard Stadium over to Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the spring training home of the Oakland A's. While there are some wistful elements to the shift in Williams' eyes, he thinks it ultimately should be a major boost to the program.
"Hopefully it will be good. It’s kind of a bummer not playing on campus," Williams said. "I remember as a freshman, rolling out of bed in the morning and running down there for weights. We’ve seen programs have success moving into big stadiums like that from economic and team standpoints. I’m excited to come back and visit when we are in that stadium and see where the Sun Devils are at."
When Williams does come back to visit, he expects to see a thriving program, and he hopes that Sun Devil Nation continues to support the team.
"Keep staying with us. Keep supporting us every weekend. There’s big things to come in the future with all of these guys coming up.
But for now, Williams is just ready to get to The Show.
"I’m excited to get my career on the road."