Rockwall-Heath’s Jett Williams controlled his own fate en route to the MLB first-round draft

FATE – Perhaps it’s fitting that Jett Williams’ life-changing moment happens here. That this 5-8 infielder would become an MLB first-round draft pick in front of home plate, inside a warehouse where he worked, tirelessly, for the past two years, in part of the county of Rockwall known as Fate.

Because make no mistake about it, everything about Williams’ journey up to that point was controlled by him. And on Sunday, he saw his dreams turn into reality.

Williams, state champion and Rockwall-Heath Offensive Player of the Year, was selected with the 14th overall pick by the New York Mets.

“I feel like if you work hard it will pay off sometimes,” Williams said. “I feel like my ultimate goal was to get drafted in the first round since I was a freshman. To know that all that hard work has paid off is truly surreal.

Williams became the third Texas high school baseball player selected in the first round of the last four drafts, joining Jordan Lawlar of the Jesuits (2021) and Bobby Witt Jr. of Colleyville Heritage (2019). Both of these prospects stood over 6 feet and were long slated for first-round stardom. Williams, defined by MLB.com as a “guy with intuition,” steadily climbed the draft boards to the point where scouts were willing to look past his size, the only thing he couldn’t control.

Williams is only the third player 5-8 or less to be a first-round pick since 2012. The other two were right-handed pitcher Marcus Stroman, selected 22nd overall by the Blue Jays in 2012, and infielder Nick Madrigal, whom the White Sox selected fourth overall in 2018.

When the draft noted his height, calling him the smallest of the top prospects, a loud cheer came from the more than 100 people in attendance at the 7AR Academy clubhouse. It’s often one of the first ways Williams is described, but now it will come after his most recent description: MLB’s No. 1 draft pick.

Rockwall-Heath baseball player Jett Williams, hugs his mother April after being selected for the New York Mets during a 2022 MLB Draft Watch Party at Club House 7 Ar Academy on Sunday, July 17, 2022 in Fate .(Shafkat Anowar / personal photographer)

It’s a goal Williams has had since he was a freshman, back when he decided to write it down on his goal board. His family knew it wouldn’t be easy, but they also knew not to doubt him.

His father, Rich, told him something he learned as a chiropractor: what the mind can perceive and believe, it can achieve. Her older brother, RJ, shared a similar message.

“I always told him it was a big goal, but I want you to set high goals,” RJ said. “If people don’t laugh at your goals, they’re not high enough, and I told him that and he wrote it down.”

And then he went to work. RJ remembers his younger brother joining him for practice when RJ was playing for UT-Arlington.

“He fits in perfectly,” RJ said of his little brother. “And I’m like a man, he could come and play for us right now. He was just that kind of guy. Its size never mattered.

Rockwall-Heath High School senior shortstop Jett Williams catches a fly ball during warmup at...
Rockwall-Heath High School senior shortstop Jett Williams catches a ball during warmups at practice Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022 in Heath, Texas. Williams is committed to playing baseball at Mississippi State. Rockwall-Heath High School won the 2021 Interscholastic League Class 6A State Championship.(Rebecca Slezak / Staff Photographer)

It didn’t matter at Rockwall-Heath, when he helped lead the Hawks to a state title in 2021, then turned around and also dominated his senior season, finishing with a batting average of .411, seven home runs, 24 steals. bases and 43 RBIs.

Never mind when he spent two summers living in Georgia with a foster family and playing baseball in East Cobb. He faced fellow first-round picks Druw Jones, the second overall pick for Arizona, and Termarr Johnson, who finished fourth overall for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“We wanted to see: how does it compare to the best of the best?” Rich said.

Very well. Enough that his size didn’t matter to the Mets, who won with their second first-round pick of the night.

“I’m so excited,” Williams said. “I can’t wait to get to New York and get to work.”

Which is no surprise to anyone who knows him. The 7AR Academy, owned by former Ranger Robinson Chirinos – who took to FaceTime to congratulate Williams when he was drafted – will once again move from the party venue to the baseball club on Monday morning. If a new first-round pick’s schedule permits, Williams said he’ll be there.

It’s no surprise to RJ. He saw his younger brother’s work ethic from an early age. He coached last season at Legacy High School in Tyler, and while RJ didn’t often want to talk about his younger star brother, sometimes there was a need.

“You say you want to reach a certain level, well you have to work to get there,” RJ told his players. “So I’m just using him as an example for that kind of stuff.”

This is how Williams controlled his own destiny.

Rockwall-Heath baseball player Jett Williams Weston hugs his 2-year-old nephew Weston Stolusky as...

1/14Rockwall-Heath baseball player Jett Williams Weston hugs his nephew Weston Stolusky, 2, as he awaits his pick during a 2022 MLB Draft Watch Party at Club House 7 Ar Academy on Sunday, July 17, 2022 at Fate.(Shafkat Anowar / personal photographer)

On Twitter: @JoeJHoyt

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