RHP Ryan Williams went from a tenth round draft pick to the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in less than 18 months. Williams pitched his way into Baseball America’s Cubs prospect list and he could find himself pitching at Wrigley Field at some point during the upcoming season.
Ryan Williams put together an excellent season during his first full year in the organization. Williams started the year in Low-A South Bend and went 4-1 in nine games, eight starts, with a 1.17 ERA and 0.70 WHIP. The Cubs sent Williams to Double-A Tennessee, skipping over High-A Myrtle Beach, and he excelled against better competition.
Williams made 17 appearances for the Smokies, 16 starts, and posted a 10-2 record with a 2.76 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. In 88 innings for Tennessee, Williams gave up 29 runs, 27 earned, on 73 hits with 16 walks and 61 strikeouts. And he allowed just two longballs.
Ryan Williams finished the year a combined 14-3 in 26 games, 24 starts, with a 2.16 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. Williams surrendered 41 runs, 34 earned, on 109 hits with 18 walks and 98 strikeouts in 141 2/3 innings. Not only is his nearly 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio rather impressive, he served up only two home runs all season.
Williams keeps the ball down with his two-seam fastball and induces weak contact that results in groundball after groundball.
Williams also received high praise about his work ethic and was compared to Tim Hudson by someone within the Cubs’ organization.
The Cubs found Ryan Williams while scouting East Carolina teammate RHP Jeff Hoffman. Williams worked out of the bullpen for East Carolina as a senior after starting for a year.
It’s unlikely Ryan Williams will crack the Cubs’ top 20. He doesn’t have the “stuff” that scouts like. Williams knows how to pitch and he’s eager to learn has much as he can about the game.
Williams turned 24 last November. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-hander has a three-quarter release point and just pounds the strike zone. Williams’ fastball touches 90-92 mph on the gun but generally sits in the upper-80s (86-89 mph). According to Baseball America, it’s the late life on his fastball that has made it difficult for batters to square him up so far in his pro career.
Williams has excellent control and features a curveball, slider, and changeup to go along with the two-seam fastball.
Williams is not in Major League Spring Training. It will be interesting to see how many call-ups for the day he receives during the Cactus League games.
The next step in Williams’ development would be a spot in Triple-A Iowa’s rotation. Ryan Williams could end up in the Cubs’ rotation down the line and possibly make a spot start or two this season if injuries to the Major League staff create an opportunity. Williams projects as a middle innings/long reliever in the majors.