Scouting Analysis: Colton Willems

Willems has a plus fastball.

With so much attention given to breaking down prospects piece by piece, looking at their strengths and weaknesses with great detail, we present Scouting Analysis here at CapitolDugout.com. Using the valuable input of professional scouts, we take an advanced look at righty pitching prospect, Colton Willems.

Present/Future Scouting Grades

Fastball - 6/7
Slider - 5/6
Curve - 3/4
Changeup - 4/4
Overall Future Potential - 52
Adjusted Overall Future Potential - 60

Explanation. Colton Willems was the first pitcher selected by the Washington Nationals this year in the 2006 MLB Draft. He signed soon after for $ 1,425,000. In his senior year at John Carroll High School in Florida, Willems struck out 99 and had an ERA of only 0.68 despite only throwing 51 innings. Armed with four solid pitches, Willems relies heavily on his mid-90's fastball and his low 80's slider. He also throws a good changeup and an average curveball. Willems five games this year for the GCL Nationals, posting a 0-1 record and a 3.38 ERA. The Florida native also struck out eight and walked just three in his first 16 innings innings of professional baseball.

Armed with two plus pitches already in his fastball and his slider, Willems may be on his way to the front of the rotation for the Nats. He has great command over his two plus pitches, the fastball and the slider, which is the reason for the adjusted future potential. He locates the two pitches exceptionally well, giving him the edge over other young pitchers. Willems will definitely need to improve his changeup and his curveball to reach that potential, however. Recently turning 18 years old, it's scary to think of how high his ceiling could be.

Physical Description. Listed at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, Willems resembles Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander. At only 190 pounds, Willems could still be filling out his lanky frame. He is also a good athlete and plays his position well. The 18-year-old will only get bigger and stronger so it wouldn't be out of the question to see an increase in his already mid-90's fastball.

Mechanical Distinctive. With a nice and easy, smooth delivery, it is hard to find something wrong in his mechanics. He locates his fastball and slider very well, using the corners to his advantage. Willems is also a very smart kid, and it shows on the mound. He signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Florida before signing with the Nationals.

Abilities. While Willems already has two great pitches, if he gets his changeup or curveball to come around, he will be on his way to stardom. It will only take a little effort and a good pitching coach to regain his feel for the curve. Willems held off of his curveball during his senior year in part because he didn't need it, but also because he couldn't locate it well. The 1st round selection also repeats his smooth delivery very well, making it look easy and effortless. With the great command and composure he has on the mound, it will give him the little extra needed to be a frontline pitcher. But, he will need the curve or changeup to become the front end starter the Nationals think he could be.

Summation. Willems profiles as a solid number two starter at the Major League level. He will need at least three years down on the farm to develop, but don't be surprised if you see Willems as a September call-up in 2009.

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