Based on what I saw of right-handed pitcher Devin Williams, the Brewers organization and its fans are in for a real treat. Williams can pitch.
Williams gained pre-Draft stature pitching for Hazelwood West High School in Missouri. In his senior year, he had a 6-1 record with a 1.02 ERA. In 48 innings, he had 93 strikeouts. Opponents hit only .102 off him.
Accolades and honors poured in, and Williams had intended to pitch for the University of Missouri. But the Brewers selected him in the second round with their first pick of the First-Year Player Draft this past June, and he signed with the team.
On the Brewers' Top 20 Prospects list, Williams is ranked No. 9.
At 18 years old, Williams already is a very fit presence, at 6-foot-3, 165 pounds. He can certainly stand to add some muscle and weight to his frame, but there is little doubt that will happen. When his physical development is complete, Williams will be an imposing figure on the mound.
I scouted Williams as he came in to relieve the starting pitcher in an Arizona Rookie League game. He's made nine appearances (five starts) and has thrown 24 2/3 innings and has a 3.65 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. Williams has yielded 20 hits and walked 15 while striking out 24.
Williams has an advanced mound demeanor. He knows how to pitch. He can sequence his fastball, slider and changeup to make the most of each pitch.
Despite the high walk total, Williams can throw strikes. He's close to the corners, but he's a bit umpire-dependent. He uses both sides of the plate and the top and bottom of the zone consistently and effectively. His command and control will become even more refined.
Williams uses mostly his upper body in his delivery -- that is to say his arm action does most of the work, with little help from his legs and torso. He finishes pitches off with good extension and a quick flick of his hand. He does fall off the mound a bit toward first base.
Williams flashed his changeup at just the right moments in pitching sequences. He didn't rely on the pitch, electing rather to bring the fastball at 91-93 mph, topping out at 94. His slider was a wicked pitch at 84 mph. Again, it was the full use of the fastball that carried the day.
Potentially, Williams could invite trouble with a runner on first. He's a tad slow to the plate. I timed him at 1.29 to 1.36 seconds. That isn't woefully slow, but it could entice some running by speedy opponents.
Hitters will pound the ball into the ground against Williams, as they have done so far in Arizona. His fastball has effective late life.
I really liked the raw ability I saw in Williams. I'll be following his progress in the Brewers' system.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.