Williamson becomes second Pippin to be drafted and signed in-season
Continuing on a journey to become a Major League Baseball player since he was 5, Yakima Valley Pippins slugger Noah Williamson has decided to go pro.
Williamson agreed to terms with the Miami Marlins late Wednesday night to begin his professional baseball career following his selection as their 19th-round pick in the 2021 MLB amateur draft. He officially signed late Saturday morning, Pacific Time.
“I still can’t believe it. This is something that we’ve been working for since I was five years old and I started playing this game,” Williamson said Wednesday night. “Everybody always wants to be a professional baseball player, and now having that opportunity to do it, it’s clear to me that I have to do it for my past self, my future self and for myself now. This is the right time.”
He becomes just the second player to be drafted and signed while actively playing for the Pippins. Reed Garrett was drafted in 2014 after starting in the first game in franchise history for the team, and was signed by the Texas Rangers after his second start.
Williamson’s rise to becoming a professional player is more remarkable because he received limited playing time at Everett Community College and was signed by the Pippins to a 10-day contract at the beginning of the summer.
It didn’t take long for Pippins coach Kyle Krustangel to offer Williamson, who left Yakima for Florida early Thursday morning, the chance to stay with the team for the rest of the summer.
“I think his first round of BP, watching him go foul pole to foul pole, and then in his second round he takes one dead center over the 406 sign, and you just don’t see that a lot,” Krustangel said. “Then he got a couple games under his belt, and instantly after about the second game the coaching staff all knew we were dealing with someone special and this guy needs to be on our team the whole summer.”
In the first year of Trackman data analytics in use at Yakima County Stadium, Williamson took full advantage and posted some impressive numbers.
On July 9, he led off the bottom of the fifth inning by launching a solo home run 429 feet to left field that left the bat at 109 miles per hour. That remains the third-longest hit of the season, according to data published by the West Coast League on July 28.
He also has two of the five hardest-hit balls of the season. He is second on that list with an exit velocity of 112.6 mph and fifth with 110.8 mph with hits on June 25 and June 22, respectively. Both of them were home runs.
“It’s easy to watch and see how impressive Noah’s power has been this summer, but having the hard numbers to quantify it is a real game-changer,” Pippins general manager Jeff Garretson said. “Making that kind of data available to players, coaches and scouts is one of the many ways the West Coast League has taken player development seriously.”
Despite not being able to finish a full summer, Williamson has already made quite an impact on the Pippins record book.
He became the first Pippin to record two triples in the same game when he did so on June 11 against Ridgefield. He also broke the team record for triples in a season with his fifth on July 20 against Bend.
He departs this summer with the current team lead in home runs with six, which is also tied for second in the West Coast League. He also leaves as the current team leader in runs scored (30, tied for second in the WCL) and RBI (28).
Williamson’s season slugging percentage of .590 is the second-highest mark for a Pippin hitter all-time, and he will enter the team record book in the top 10 for runs scored, RBI, doubles, and home runs in a season as well.
“Noah is just a complete character package. High GPA, raised right. I’ll remember more about his character and as a person – how he handles himself day-in, day-out – than just a big exit velo and a big-time player,” Krustangel added. “I think the Marlins got someone who is a whole package, and I think that’s rare these days to see someone who’s raised that correctly. Just because he’s having the best success of his life, he’s still sticking to his core.”