WASHINGTON, Pa. (April 12) – Today the Wild Things announced another addition to the ever-growing Spring Training roster for the upcoming 2018 season, as the team has come to terms on a deal with former Angels’ farmhand Doug Willey.
Willey was drafted in the 32nd round of the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft by the Los Angeles Angels and was sent to rookie-ball after a successful collegiate career. The Gorham High School grad matriculated to Franklin Pierce University, where he played three seasons before heading to the University of Arkansas, where he pitched his senior season before being selected in the draft.
At Franklin Pierce (NCAA Division II), the right-hander made 53 appearances, which is the career record at the school. As a freshman, Willey pitched in 20 games accumulating 36.2 innings. He allowed 35 hits and walked eight, while sporting an earned run average of 2.45 with 25 strikeouts. He improved as a sophomore and logged 39 innings in 26 games, pitching to an ERA of 1.85 (eight earned of 10 runs allowed). Willey struck out 31 to just 13 walks in 2014. In 2015, Willey threw just seven innings in an injury-plagued season.
That’s when Willey went to Arkansas, where he enjoyed a good bit of success in the SEC. In 28 innings over 26 appearances out of the bullpen, the New Hampshire native struck out 29 and walked only nine while owning an ERA of 3.49.
After that season, Willey said the pro game was a big adjustment for him.
“Getting drafted by the Angels in 2016 was a childhood dream that came true, and I’m thankful for the opportunity they gave me,” said Willey. “The biggest adjustment I had to make in the minor leagues from getting drafted out of college was calling my own game and reading the hitters on my own. In college you have coaches calling pitches and scouting reports on hitters for each game so it makes it easier on you and your catcher.”
Once drafted, he was sent to the Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League, where he threw 30 innings prior to having Tommy John surgery in September, which forced him to miss all of 2017.
“While we always focus on players with productive backgrounds, there is always a point where makeup influences our decision-making. The journey making contact and recruiting Doug was quite unique, but we were sold after one phone call,” said assistant general manager of team operations Tony Buccilli. “He carries a natural hunger to compete considering he is 18 months removed from Tommy John surgery. He feeds off pitching in big games and has only been involved with winning programs. We expect him to be an impact arm out of our bullpen. His experience at Franklin Pierce, the Cape Cod League and center-stage SEC play at Arkansas reinforces our belief in his character.”
The right-hander echoed the sentiments of Buccilli on the phone call that all but sealed the deal.
“The process was sort of a right place right time thing for me in signing with the Wild Things,” said Willey. “I had a great conversation with Tony, and we clicked so I knew it would be somewhere I could contribute to winning and somewhere that is closer to home so my family can catch some games. I’m very excited to join the Wild Things and hope to be a part of another great season like [the team] had in 2017.”
Willey described himself as a competitor on the mound and said fans can expect to hear some Metallica play over the sound system as he runs to the mound.
“I’m a guy who loves to compete at everything I do. I carry a heavy passion and pride for everything I do, and I definitely bring that bulldog-type mentality to the game,” said Willey. “I’m always down to talk to fans and sign autographs before and after games so feel free to come say ‘hey.'”