And we are back once again with our series recapping the seasons of your 2015 top prospects. Today we’re catching up with our #7 prospect, RHP Devin Williams. Once again if you missed anything previously, you can get caught up here:
Williams took another step forward in 2015 posting a solid 3.44 ERA backed by a 1.25 WHIP and a strong 23.5 K% over in 89 innings. Low-A Wisconsin was abysmal – mostly due to the fact that the team was filled with high ceiling youngsters well below the league’s average age – finishing 39 games under .500 and owning a team OPS of .629, which was far and away the worst in the Midwest League. This accounts for his ugly 3-9 record, if pitcher win-loss records are going to be a thing that you pretend still matter.
Getting a late start to the season due to a forearm flexor strain, Williams made his debut with the Timber Rattlers on May 16. He made 22 appearances but only 13 starts due to Wisconsin employing a "piggyback" system in which two starters would split games, resulting in 19 different starting pitchers being used by the T-Rats in 2015. Williams’ finest start came on June 27, when he pitched six innings of shutout, two hit ball with seven strikeouts and a walk. The seven Ks were a career high for exactly five days, when he followed up that performance with eight punch outs in another six inning outing.
Williams has been widely considered the top arm in the Brewers’ system, and indeed he’s the last pitcher in our series here and remains the highest pitcher ranked on MLB.com’s Top 30, where he’s also ranked #7. Listed at 6’3", 165 lbs., which were his measurements when he was drafted two years ago, Williams still needs to add a little meat to his bones, but he bought his first beer (legally) exactly a month ago and he still has plenty of time to add bulk to his frame. He has a solid fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s with a plus changeup and a developing slider.
He continues to strike out batters in bunches, finishing with a clean 9.0 K/9 ratio in 2015, and does a great job of keeping the ball in the park (0.4 career HR/9 ratio). His FIP of 3.28 in 2015 reflects this, though this is a metric I advise taking with a spoonful of salt. He threw a team-high 19 wild pitches, so he does have a tendency to get a bit wild at times.
Williams is likely headed to High-A Brevard County to start 2016, where he’ll get a chance to breakout in one of the most notorious "pitchers" leagues in all of minor league baseball; from 2008-12, the Florida State League had a league-wide OPS of .699, the lowest of in the minor league system outside of short-season and rookie level leagues. The 21-year-old remains the Brewers’ top pitching prospect, though he’s still several years away from contributing to the major league club.