The Brewers used their first overall pick (in the second round) in the 2013 Draft on Williams, an athletic and projectable right-hander from the St. Louis prep ranks. Developed as a starter early in his career, Williams was brought along slowly but began to show signs of putting things together in 2016, reaching the Class A Advanced level for the first time. But Tommy John surgery the following spring cost him all of 2017 as well as a portion of the ’18 season, and he struggled as a starter when he finally returned from a 22-month layoff. The Brewers moved Williams to the bullpen in 2019 and watched the right-hander blossom in the role, earning a SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game selection in July and his first big league callup the following month.
Williams’ lengthy recovery allowed him to get bigger and stronger, and when he finally returned last year as a reliever, the low-90s fastball he showed as a starter was sitting in the upper 90s and pushing triple digits. His heater averaged 96.4 mph and topped out at 98.5 across 13 appearances with the Brewers down the stretch. Williams’ slider, though still part of his arsenal, has taken a backseat to an above-average changeup that has a 12-13 mph demarcation in velocity compared to his fastball. Big league hitters batted just .222 with a .259 slugging against Williams’ changeup, albeit in a sub-100-pitch sample size.
Williams has made huge strides with his durability, stuff and control, but the right-hander still has gains to make with his command. The Brewers view him as potential multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen, perhaps even a high-leverage reliever if he can learn to command his explosive fastball.