Williams back on track in Fall League after down season in Double-A

October 14th, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- admits that his 2023 season in Double-A Hartford was ugly.

There were a lot of high expectations for Williams, who grew up playing for the Rockies on their scout team. Starting the season in Double-A put him on track to potentially end the season with a trip to the Majors, but the struggles just wouldn’t go away. He finished with a 7.08 ERA in 101 2/3 innings pitched.

It could’ve been easy for him to panic, but the 21-year-old Colorado native said that even in the darkest times, he knew the adversity he endured would help his development.

“It was a struggle,” Williams said after the Rafters 11-8 win over the Javelinas on Friday at Salt River Fields. “Nobody chooses challenges, but I’m fortunate enough to receive them and able to adapt to adversity and truly figure out who I am as a pitcher and how I attack hitters and go about from a day-to-day basis.”

Luckily for Williams, the Rockies decided to send him to the Arizona Fall League for him to build up his confidence. Through two starts, he has erased what happened in Hartford by having yet to allow a run. Williams pitched three shutout innings, allowing one hit and struck out four against Peoria, which leads the AFL in runs by a wide margin.

The strong start has made it easier for him to get past his struggles in 2023, especially since he thinks that the talent in the AFL is similar to that of the level he pitched against while in Hartford.

“It’s mentality for the most part,” Williams said. “Not letting external factors affect who I am as a pitcher because at the end of the day when it comes out of my hand, it’s out of my control. So, just keeping everything within myself and under my own control.”

Growing up in Colorado, playing for the Rockies had always been a dream for Williams. That dream became a reality when was drafted by the Rockies in the fourth round in 2020. But five months after he accomplished his lifelong goal, he was traded to the Reds.

Williams was surprised that the Rockies dealt him, but it was a short goodbye, as in July of 2021 the club re-acquired him.

“It was a nice welcome to my career,” Williams said. “I’m fortunate to see two different organizations, two different ways of doing things and having a new perspective. Really just using all these different viewpoints to create myself.”

Williams’ pitching selection consists of a slider, sinker, changeup and curveball. Recently, he debuted a two-seam fastball in the AFL and, although he has been using it sparingly in his outings, he hopes that enhancing the pitch will be able to help him understand his process and pitch selection more.

“I want to hone my process,” Williams said. “I think if I can focus on my process, production will follow. I’m looking forward to keeping it up day to day and see where it goes.”

Williams isn’t the only Rockies player who delivered for the Rafters. (COL No. 6) reached base four times with two hits and a pair of walks and  (COL No. 8) finished 2-for-4 and drove in a run. (COL) and  (COL No. 29) combined for three innings of relief, allowing just one run (Hill).