By KIRK HARDCASTLE
NIACC sports information director
Brandon Williamson grew up in the small town of Welcome, Minn.
So like many kids that grew up playing baseball in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, he was a fan of the Minnesota Twins.
But now the former NIACC left-handed pitcher has a new favorite MLB organization - the Seattle Mariners, who drafted Williamson in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft.
Williamson, who pitched for NIACC in 2017-18, admits that he doesn't know much, yet, about the Seattle Mariners.
"I knew of Ichrio, A-Rod and Ken Griffey Jr.," Williamson said of his previous Seattle Mariner knowledge, "but I'm looking forward to getting to know more."
Seattle selected pitchers with its first five picks of the 2019 draft, including Elon University right-hander George Kirby in the first round. Kirby led all NCAA Division I pitchers with a dazzling 17.83 strikeout-to-walk ratio this year — 107 strikeouts to six walks in 88.1 innings pitched.
Seattle's scouting director Scott Hunter is expecting big things from Williamson, who helped lead TCU to the NCAA Tournament in his lone season at TCU.
"Brandon has more of a power arm." Hunter was quoted as saying in the Seattle Times about the 6-foot-6 southpaw. "He's been up to 95-96 and I do believe he's got a little left in the tank."
Williamson, who is NIACC's career strikeout leader with 151, said he was a bit surprised when the Mariners selected him late Monday night with the 59th pick of the draft. Williamson said that the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox had shown a lot of interest in him leading up to the draft.
"My agent called me around pick 50 and told me to get ready," Williamson said. "He said the Mariners are going to take me at pick 59.
"Then when my phone rang, I had the most butterflies in my stomach than I've had in a long time."
Williamson said he has not received the details from the Mariners yet on when he will sign or where he will be placed to start his professional career. He's just eager to get started.
"I don't think it will sink in until I put on that jersey and hat," he said.
Williamson was 4-5 with a 4.19 earned run average during his junior campaign with TCU. He accumulated 89 strikeouts in 77 1/3 innings pitched.
In the 2018 MLB draft, Williamson was selected in the 36th round by the Milwaukee Brewers but he chose to attend TCU instead of signing with the Brewers.
Now a year later, he will soon be an official member of the Mariners' organization.
Williamson said that he needs to improve in all areas to move through the organization and one day hopefully pitch in the major leagues.
"I'd say I need to improve in the zone," he said. "I need to stay in the zone more, limit the walks and I could probably put on 15 to 20 more pounds. I don't need to throw any harder."
Williamson said he's happy that the college recruiting and having scouts watch him with their radar guns on a daily basis is now over.
"I'm 100 percent relieved that's over," he said. "I did get to meet a lot of great people, but I'm definitely glad it's over."