Turner High School shortstop Nolan “Nonie” Williams watched a day and a half of the Major League Baseball amateur draft before finally hearing his name called.
The Los Angeles Angels chose him with the 96th pick Friday.
Now Williams will have until July 15 to decide if he’ll sign with the Angels or go to LSU, where he’s committed to play college baseball.
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“It’s a tough feeling just waiting because you want to hear your name called,” Williams said. “I’ve seen a lot of my friends get called when I kind of wanted to go. But once it happens, it’s the best feeling ever.”
Williams is homeschooled, but Kansas rules allow him to take one class at Turner so that he can play on the baseball team. He finished this season with a .533 batting average and .613 on-base percentage, hitting five homers and striking out four times.
“He has quick hands, works both sides of the plate. He has huge power,” said Dennis Jamison, who coached Williams for two seasons at Turner. “His dad has a hitting facility at their house, so he lives and breathes it.”
Once Williams does make contact, his speed takes over. He stole 26 bases by the end of the season, and according to Jamison, has one of the fastest home-to-first times he’s ever seen as a coach.
“I’ve always been one of the quicker kids on the team,” Williams said. “That’s one of my tools that never takes a day off. Sometimes you’re in a slump, and errors happen. But you can always control your speed.”
Williams has played at shortstop almost exclusively throughout his high school career. But he could make a move to the outfield in professional baseball, and he said he was comfortable at any position.
He also is a switch-hitter.
“I kind of played around with it a little, just playing Wiffle ball with my friends,” he said. “In a game (last year), I asked my coach if I could turn it around and go left-handed. I hit a home run and got a double in that game, so I stuck with it.”
The nights in his home batting facility, the switch-hitting and the natural speed have all paid off for Williams as he bcame the third Kansas City-area player to be taken in the first three rounds of the draft.
“There’s great baseball in Kansas City that people don’t realize,” Williams said. “It’s kind of unreal, and to be friends with some of the guys, and to be one of them that makes history, it’s really awesome.”
Duensing drafted in sixth round
The Angels drafted a second Kansas City player Friday after picking Williams.
They also chose Cole Duensing, a right-handed pitcher out of Blue Valley Northwest, in the sixth round with the 186th pick overall.
Duensing is a Kansas State commit.
Colleges players drafted
▪ The Miami Marlins selected Missouri State University pitcher Sam Perez in the fifth round. Perez, a Branson, Mo., native, went 8-0 with a 2.86 ERA in the 2016 season while striking out 112 batters in 91 1/3 innings.
▪ Missouri shortstop Ryan Howard, from St. Charles, Mo., was picked in the fifth round by the San Francisco Giants. Howard, a sophomore, finished 2016 hitting .295 with five home runs and 27 RBIs.
▪ The Cleveland Indians chose Michael Tinsley, a sophomore catcher for Kansas, in the seventh round. Tinsley batted .377 with 42 RBIs in 56 games.
▪ Wichita State pitcher Sam Tewes was selected with the final pick in the eighth round. Tewes, a sophomore, had a 7.36 ERA in four starts in 2016 while battling injuries.
▪ Lucas Benenati, a senior from Kansas State, was picked second in the 10th round by the Cincinnati Reds. Benenati owned a 3.81 ERA in 23 relief appearances.