Drafted in the eighth round of the 2000 amateur draft—No. 213 overall—the then 21-year-old fireballer burst on national scene in 2003 when he won 14 games, including two complete-game shutouts, for the Florida Marlins. That year, Willis, with a fastball clocked in the high 90s, struck out 142 batters while walking only 58. Averaging 8 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, and recording a 3.45 ERA, Willis was a key member of the Marlins' staff that also included Josh Beckett, AJ Burnett, Carl Pavano and Brad Penny. That year, the Marlins topped the Yankees in the World Series four games to two, and Willis appeared in three games in relief. Nicknamed “D-Train,” Willis was named to the 2003 National League All-Star team and earned NL Rookie of the Year recognition.
His best year in the big leagues came in 2005 when he won more games than anyone in Major League Baseball—22--with seven complete games and five shutouts. His final stat line was 22-10, 2.63 ERA, 170 strikeouts in 236.1 innings pitched, and came in second in National League Cy Young voting. Overall, Willis has a 72-68 record, including eight shutouts and 15 complete games with a 4.17 ERA and 869 strikeouts in 1221.2 innings pitched with four Major League teams—Florida, Detroit, Arizona, and Cincinnati.
Earlier this season, Willis appeared two games for the Fresno Grizzlies, the AAA affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Last season, Willis started the season with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League before signing with the Los Angeles Angles and pitching for the Angels AAA affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees.
The Bluefish will finish the first half by embarking on a four-game road trip to York, Pa., where they will take on the Revolution. They return on home on Monday, July 14, when they will play the legendary Stratford Brakettes in an exhibition fastpitch softball game. Then, after a three-day All-Star break, the Bluefish will open the second half with a three-game series vs. the Somerset Patriots beginning Fri., July 18. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. For tickets, click HERE.