Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 6/5/13
ST. LOUIS Angela Norton says she had to stop playing catch with her son when he turned 8. A decade later, throwing hard is about to land her boy a career. "I've always known he was born to play baseball," she said Monday evening. Devin Williams, soft-spoken yet full of confidence, sat beside her. Baseball has always come easily for him, and growing up he pitched on older teams to face stiffer competition. The 6-foot-3 right-hander, who idolized Pedro Martinez, hopes to throw at the highest level for a long, long time. "I want to be in the Hall of Fame," Williams said without batting one eyelash. "I want to be one of the best to ever do it." Williams will be taken somewhere in the 2013 MLB Draft, which starts Thursday night. When and where, though, is anyone's guess. All but two major league teams have conducted in-home visits with the Hazelwood West High School graduate. Projections list him both high (ESPN has him as the 20th-best player in this year's draft, far ahead of the area's other super high schooler, Jacob Brentz of Ballwin, Mo.) and low (he didn't crack the MLB.com Top 100 list). He says his only goal is to land in the first round. The chance of that happening is good, thanks to the increase in Williams' velocity his fastball has now hit 96 mph twice and his variety, which includes a two-seam fastball, change-up and slider. He also has two no-hitters and a perfect game on his high school resume. But if the first round does comes and go, Williams has a decent backup plan to consider. He committed to the University of Missouri in January 2012, and the Tigers are still fighting for their slim chance to land him. "I think Coach Jackson is trying to stay positive," Williams said with a smile. "He's been texting me a lot." When Cardinals rookie starter Michael Wacha, the team's top pick out of Texas A&M in last season's draft, debuted this year, Mizzou baseball recruiting director Kerrick Jackson sent the following message: "Look at him. He went to college for three years. Now he's in the majors." Jackson's recruiting effort is admirable. And sure, college is still somewhat of an option for Williams. "Mostly, if it's a team I think is a good fit for me, and obviously the signing bonus is a big part of it," he said. "I'll just have to make a decision on whether I want to play in the SEC, or go play pro ball. They're both good options. If I signed right away, it would be nice to get started. Whatever team you're with, they start molding you toward what they want to see to get you into the big leagues." A diplomatic answer, yes. But one that tips Williams' hand. He has major league dreams, and he will chase them as long as he feels he has a decent chance. Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at frederickson.ben@gmail.com.
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