Exclusive Scouting Report: AFL Rising Stars West

Trevor Williams, RH Starting Pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 23 — 2015 Levels: AA Jacksonville (SOU), AAA New Orleans (PCL)

On October 23, 2015, the Pirates’ Jim Benedict — who has had a large role in the Pirates’ success since joining the team as an aide to Neil Huntington in 2008 — agreed to become the Marlins’ Vice President of Pitching. The next day, pitching prospect Trevor Williams was sent to the Pirates from the Marlins. While this may be coincidence, it seems the Pirates capitalized on acquiring a solid depth pitching prospect with a high floor to add to the upper-tiers of their system with a chance to contribute.

Williams was a second-round pick in 2013 out of Arizona State, and he’s so far stayed on a good track to the bigs having pitched all of his second full professional season between AA and AAA. He had a solid outing that showed a “starter’s kit” likely more notable for its reliability than impact.

Williams looked a little longer and leaner than his 6’3″, 230-pound listing. He pitched from a full windup, breaking his hands over his head before his leg kick. Mechanically, his delivery and finish looked almost exactly like Padres’ prospect Walker Weickel, but for a more notable comparison, think of an Adam Wainwright-type delivery. Williams had a tall but compact leg kick, with a clean and repeatable landing on-line to his targets. He has a durable frame, and a low-maintenance finish over his lower half. Overall, the delivery was clean and repeatable, with a starting pitcher’s look — allowing numerous pitches to land for strikes.

Williams showed he can run a four-seam fastball up to 94-95, but he favored a two-seam fastball in the 89-93 range as his go-to fastball. Especially in the 89-91 range, the two-seamer was a heavy groundball-inducing pitch with good turnover action down and in to right-handed hitters. Not surprisingly, Williams carried a ground-ball rate above 50% in 2015 at AA Jacksonville. His choice to pitch off a sinker over a four-seamer showed me some moxie, understanding how to mix his pitches and change his approach based on situations. Williams showed both a curveball in the 74-76 range with good shape, and a harder slider in the mid-80s with good spin — a pleasant surprise for the type of body and delivery that generally only uses a curveball. Both pitches had distinct action, both with the look of pitches that will play closer to average than generate tons of swings and misses. He favored fastballs and breaking balls, but did show he rounds out his arsenal with a circle-changeup at 82-84 with action away from left-handed bats.

Though Williams likely is more a complimentary starting piece at the back-part of a rotation than an impact guy, he’s the type of mid-level pitching prospect I would want in my system. He landed a mix of solid-average stuff for strikes, and had different looks on his fastball and breaking ball to keep hitters off balance. It will be interesting to see how he progresses in a more crowded Pirates rotation, but I can see this guy debuting at the ML level by 2016.

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