Los Angeles Dodgers’ prospect Kendall Williams stopped by the Golden Valley High School baseball field on Wednesday.
Williams worked out, pitched and talked with the team all while sharing tips and knowledge on how to grow as a baseball player.
The 6-foot, 6-inch right-handed pitcher got loose on the mound with Grizzlies catcher Brayden Brewer. Williams then went one-on-one with several Golden Valley batters, which went as well as a AAA pitcher going against high schoolers can go.
The special day was set up by Golden Valley assistant coach Hector Juarez, who simply emailed Williams. Juarez and Williams chatted about certain workout techniques before the coach asked if Williams would be interested in stopping by a practice.
The pro pitcher happily obliged.
“I think it’s really cool because not everybody gets to do it,” Williams said. “For these guys, it’s not every day they get to be around a pro guy. No matter what level, how long they’ve been there, it doesn’t matter. I can give a little bit of insight and kind of help them understand better what they’re working towards. If this is something they really want to take seriously, I’m sharing what they’re going to have to put into it to get there.”
Williams was speaking at an elementary school somewhat nearby and opted to come by Golden Valley a few days before he ships off to spring training.
The big righty tore through the minors for the Dodgers in 2023 and last pitched for the AAA affiliate, Oklahoma City Dodgers.
Williams started 16 of his 17 appearances in the minors last year and accumulated a 3.73 ERA with 61 hits with 62 strikeouts.
The pitcher’s biggest piece of advice: work on yourself, and don’t worry what everyone else is doing.
“Stop comparing yourself to everybody else,” Williams said. “Some dudes bloom late, some dudes bloom early and it doesn’t matter. If you’re worried about what everyone else is doing, all it’s going to do is hurt you in the end and mess up your mentality. So, I think I just worry about yourself, make sure you’re taking care of your work and eventually everything will catch back up.”
Grizzlies head coach Adrian Rios was thrilled when initially presented the idea of Williams practicing with his program.
“It’s absolutely the best thing ever to get somebody like this. Somebody wants to come to Golden Valley?” Rios joked. “Having that is good, it’s more publicity for our program. The coaches are all really invested.”
Williams wrapped up his day with the Grizzlies with a long Q&A session where he answered dozens of questions about his journey, work ethic and of course baseball stories.
The Dodger reflected on his high school days at IMG Academy in Florida.
“They’re all blessed to be out here,” Williams said. “High school had some of the best memories of baseball that I have. It’s all the camaraderie, everyone’s cool, good teammates, good atmosphere, and I think they won’t realize it until they’re gone. They’ll all look back on this whether they play for two months after high school or for 20 years. This is a very special time and I just think that they should appreciate it and cherish it for what it is.”
Golden Valley has a little over a week of offseason left before opening up the 2024 season on Saturday, Feb. 10 at home against Oxnard at 11:30 a.m.
The Grizzlies are hoping for another solid season but are still looking for the program’s first ever playoff berth. With tons of field upgrades, former players returning to help coach and Williams’ tips on Wednesday, the team may finally get over the hump and reach the postseason in 2024.