San Jacinto’s Remarkable Pitching Factory

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

HOUSTON, Tex. — Woody Williams is one the elite pitching coaches in all of baseball.

The former 15-year Major League pitcher with Toronto, San Diego, St. Louis and Houston finished his fifth year as a volunteer assistant with San Jacinto College this season.

In the past five years, 15 San Jacinto pitchers have been selected in the Major League Baseball Draft.

Six of his pitchers were drafted in the 2019 MLB Draft alone.

Houston area baseball fans are well versed in the success of former San Jacinto pitchers Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens, but the list doesn’t end there.

Pitchers Jackson Rutledge (Washington Nationals), Luis Quinones (Toronto Blue Jays), Matt Albers (Washington Nationals), Anthony Banda (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Daniel Stumpf (Detroit Tigers) are former Gators now on Major League rosters.

Rutledge was selected by the Washington Nationals as the 17th overall pick in the first round of the 2019 MLB draft.

The next in line may be LHP Luke Little who was selected in the fourth round by the Chicago Cubs last month in the MLB Draft.

The 6-foot-8 southpaw hit 105 mph on his fastball in a bullpen session this spring and fanned 17 batters with 3 walks over 9 innings in 5 appearances with a 2.00 ERA before the season was stopped.

Mitchell Parker was picked in the fifth round by the Washington Nationals last June. He finished the 2020 season with 64 strikeouts in 30 innings and posted a 1.19 ERA.

RHP Brandon Birdsell wasn’t drafted last June but topped out at 97 mph.

Williams explains the development of each pitcher at San Jacinto.

From 92-105 MPH
When Little came to San Jacinto two years ago as a 6-foot-8 raw pitcher with plenty of potential, nobody could have seen his velocity jump from 92-105 mph.

“Luke’s success is a testament to the work he put in and the development of his physical, mental maturity and desire to great,” said Williams.

“Luke just turned 19. He was a young 17-year-old when we got him two years ago. He was the youngest kid on the team when he came to San Jac. We all get caught up on how tall he is, and we want to put the label of mental and physical maturity on that because he is so big.

“But that’s not where he was when he arrived here. When he came in, he had a hard time controlling his 6-foot-8 body for even a small amount of time. He really started to mature mentally when he realized he couldn’t go out there and see how hard he could throw every time.

“He needed to learn how he was going to sustain what he wanted to accomplish. So he started putting in the work. One thing has led to another. I know he will continue to get better because he doesn’t have a mature man body yet where he has total strength and control.

“When he first got here, he threw a lot of fastballs 90-94 mph. We gave him a chance to start his freshman year. He would start the first inning and throw 94-95 mph. The next inning he would be at 92-93 mph. The next he would be at 91 mph. By the fourth inning, he would be 89-90 mph.

“He was having a hard time keeping it all together. His fastball is now around 100 mph consistently after two years in our program. Last fall I saw him hit 101 mph twice, and he hit 105 mph in a bullpen setting in an indoor facility away from our program last spring.”

To read more of this article, purchase the July 10, 2020 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. He discusses more about how Luke Little was refined. He also explains how pitchers in his system are developed at San Jacinto College giving examples of three key pitchers on the 2020 ball club. It is a fascinating look into one of the top pitching coaches in the business.