Coleman Willis showed intriguing skills and potential on the mound in showcase events last summer. Scouts took notice but wanted to see improvement in command and fastball velocity from Willis.
Willis spent the last offseason adding strength to his frame, increasing his weight from 185 pounds to about 215 pounds before starting his senior season at Houston County (Ga.) High this spring.
The additional weight allowed Willis to increase his fastball velocity from 91 to 95 mph this spring. Willis also showed more consistency with his delivery and secondary pitches throughout his final prep season.
Willis’ development and success this spring have helped him enhance his status for July’s MLB draft. Scouts project the right-handed prep pitcher as a potential top-five-round pick in this year’s draft.
“It has come as a shock,” said Willis on the draft attention. “When I was coming into my senior year. I didn’t think I would have this much attention around me. I just try to soak it all in and have the best experience with it because you only get this experience once. It has been pretty cool.”
Willis is a 6-foot-7, 210-pound right-handed pitcher who throws a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, curveball and changeup from a three-quarters arm slot.
His four-seam fastball is an above-average offering that he throws in any situation and locates well in all quadrants of the strike zone. He typically uses his two-seamer earlier in the count to generate weak contact.
His high-70s curveball features 11-to-5 breaking action and solid power and depth. It is a solid putaway pitch that showed more consistency this spring.
Wills’ mid-80s changeup needs more polish. It flashes potential, though, and has solid sinking and fading action.
“I think I am a competitor on the mound,” Willis said. “Once I get on the mound, it is all about getting the guy out. I don’t really think about anything else. I always want to win. That is my goal – to win. When I get on the mound, I’m very focused and go right at hitters.”
Willis hopes to refine his delivery to make sure it is more in sync while adding strength to his frame this offseason. Willis has plenty of upside and profiles as a starter in pro ball if he continues to make strides with his fastball velocity and the consistency of his secondary pitches.
“I want to refine my lower half mechanics and just be more smooth and not have as much effort,” Willis said. “I also want to get bigger and stronger to put on some more mass.”
Besides his status as a top draft prospect, Willis also is a University of Georgia commit.
Willis verbally committed to Georgia on July 6, 2019, due to his familiarity with the school and the program’s track record of developing talent for pro ball. It also was his first and only offer he received, he said.
“It has been my dream school ever since I have been a little kid,” Willis said. “I have been going to Georgia games ever since I could walk. It is a great atmosphere and is a place that feels like home. The pitching coach, Sean Kenny, has done a really great job with the pitching side of the program and is just a really quality dude. I feel like I can get a lot better with him as my coach.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He has interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.