Monday, June 28, 2021
Another ultra-talented college arm, Gavin Williams was mocked to the Braves at no. 24 overall as part of Baseball America‘s most-recent mock draft. Could Williams fall all the way down to Atlanta on draft day?
Built a lot like Kyle Muller, the 21-year-old Williams is a 6-foot-6, 238-pound righty that turned heads in the college game during his first year as primarily a starter at East Carolina, especially in the NCAA Tourney. As a 45 FV prospect at FanGraphs (listed 19th on THE BOARD), and who’s fastball is graded at a 70 by many, Williams flourished in his new role on his way to a 1.88 ERA with ECU in 2021, to go with 130 strikeouts in 81 ⅓ innings.
Williams’ career at ECU
2018 – 15 ⅔ IP, 1.15 ERA
2019 – 49 ⅓ IP, 4.56 ERA
2020 – 3 IP, 0.00 ERA
2021 – 81 ⅓ IP, 1.88 ERA
Williams’ fastball tops out in the triple-digits but usually sits in the 94-97 MPH range, with excellent command and reportedly some arm-side run to it. That type of heat, coupled with his ability to locate it anywhere he wants, is enough to make him a dominant force as a pro reliever.
In fact, Williams recently went toe to toe with potential top pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker, in the Super Regionals, in which both pitchers racked up 24 strikeouts combined. Even though ECU lost and he was removed in the 7th inning, Williams was still hitting the high-90s with his heater (his 100th pitch of the day was clocked at 97 MPH as he punched out 13 altogether).
Williams also wields an upper-70s MPH curve that features late bite, and a mid-80s MPH slider — both of which create quite a velocity difference for opposing batters. And though it reportedly still needs some work, Williams also has a changeup to add to the mix.
One of the aspects of Williams’ game that I believe is pretty underrated is his delivery. He uses all of his length and high arm-slot to come straight down, making it that much harder for opposing batters to lift the ball against him. It’s not surprising at all that Williams only allowed three home runs in 2021.
Like Mississippi’s State’s Will Bednar (who I looked at last time), Williams is a big time college arm who has enjoyed his first full-season in a starting role. Both have incredibly prolific fastballs to go with one secondary they’ve already all but mastered as a swing-and-miss offering (the curve for Williams… and the slider for Bednar).
Williams seems to have more upside, perhaps due to his size and triple-digit velo, but I believe both he and Bednar are locks as first-round picks next month. All indicators point to Atlanta selecting a college arm, so we’ll see if either are available at no. 24.