Taylor Williams got the call he had been waiting for his whole life Friday.
The Milwaukee Brewers selected the 21-year-old Camas pitcher in the fourth round of the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft. Williams was the 122nd pick overall.
“It’s amazing and surreal,” said the 2010 Camas High School graduate. “Ever since I started playing baseball, this has been a dream and a goal in my life.
“I’ve worked so hard for this moment,” Williams added. “I thank my family and friends for being there with me every step of the way. I thank the community of Camas, as a whole. Every coach and every teammate I’ve had growing up have been a factor in me getting drafted.”
Williams’ final start for the Papermakers came in the semifinal round of the state tournament, at Safeco Field. He tossed eight innings of one-run and five-hit baseball, while gaining nine strikeouts. Camas defeated Columbia River 3-2 in 11 innings.
“He threw 122 pitches that day, and he gave us everything he had on every single pitch,” said CHS head coach Joe Hallead. “We still remember that game like it was yesterday. We’re living vicariously through him now. He’s carrying that Camas torch.”
Over the next three seasons, Williams pitched for Washington State University, Mt. Hood Community College and Kent State University.
“Sometimes, you don’t know where life is going to take you,” he said. “For me, it was three schools.”
Williams never got a firm foothold on the pitcher’s mound in Pullman, but he didn’t give up on his dream. He came home and discovered a new path while playing baseball with his former Papermaker teammates Jeremy Faulkner, Logan Grindy and John Welborn at Mt. Hood.
“Those guys helped me find my love for the game again,” Williams said.
Williams also became friends with some of the players on the Kent State University baseball team. They played summer ball together for the Keane Swamp Bats, in New Hampshire. His closest friend of the group, Derek Toadvine, contacted Kent State coach Scott Stricklin and lobbied on Williams’ behalf.
The coach took a chance on the 5-foot, 11-inch righthander from Camas, which is about 2,500 miles west of Kent.
“The opportunity to go to Kent State this year was a huge turning point,” Williams said. “I got to work with great coaches and teammates who helped me blossom, not only as a baseball player, but as a person.”
Williams fit like a glove with the Golden Flashes, going 10-1 on the mound with a 2.47 ERA and 110 strikeouts. He was named a first-team pitcher in the Mid-American Conference.
“I’m so proud of the kid because he didn’t quit. He persevered,” Hallead said. “He had a great year at Mt. Hood, and then he went to Kent State and had a wonderful year. It’s just unbelievable, but not to the ones who saw him pitch in Camas. He’s always been a competitor. We’ve seen that fire in his eyes since he was a freshman.”
Williams signed a $400,000 contract with the Brewers Monday. He will go to Milwaukee Thursday and begin his quest with the Helena, Mont., Brewers, a Single-A team in the Pioneer League.
“The dream will never stop until it’s achieved. Putting pen to paper on a contract marks the beginning of a new chapter,” Williams said. “I’m not going to stop until I make it to the big leagues.”