Williams was the Brewers top pick in the 2013 draft. He is a little lanky at 6’3’’ 165 lbs., so ideally he will add more muscle as he progresses. The right hander has a good bit of upside, despite being a little raw coming out. Regardless, there is a lot to like in the 54th selection of the ’13 draft.
Coming into his professional career, Williams was a classic “good body” type. He had a good, projectable frame with some decent stuff, living in the high 80’s to low 90’s with his fastball, touching 93 MPH, with a feel for some breaking pitches. Since that time, he has made some nice progression. His fastball is now sitting in the low 90’s, touching 95-96 MPH. The breaking pitches have taken some nice steps, with potential to be major league average pitches or better, although his slider his lagging behind his change up a little bit. Despite being behind his other pitches somewhat, his slider can generate a pretty decent downward plane when it is on. Williams comes with a pretty loose delivery, especially with his arm. It helps him generate the most out of his thin build. If he can keep the looseness as he adds muscle, it could help him gain a few important ticks on his fastball. Repeatability may also be a thing to watch with his delivery, as the loose delivery also comes with some pronounced aspects, specifically in regards to his initial leg kick.
Statistically, Williams took some good steps this year. The Brewers nearly doubled his work load from ’13, jumping from 34.2 IP to 66.1 this past year. His K/9 did drop, falling from 10.13 to 8.95, but that can be attributed to the increased workload and a larger sample size. At first glance, his ERA took steps back, going from a nice 3.38 to more than 1 point higher at 4.48, but his FIP stayed almost exactly the same at 4.02 compared to 4.01 in ’13. The nearly identical FIP’s can likely be attributed in part to the drop in strikeout rate, as well as the increase in BABIP (.301 in ’13, .359 in ’14).
Williams’ solid, yet unspectacular campaign in ’14 will likely give him a bump to Single A Wisconsin to open the season. Exactly half of his professional games have come as a starter. That number will have to increase, as well as continued development of his slider to complete a three pitch mix, for him to have a hope as a future starter. I’d expect his work load to increase again this year. If everything works out, we could be looking at a top of the rotation guy, and if it doesn’t, Williams would likely fit in nicely at the back-end of a bullpen.