When you have the No. 3 overall pick, it’s never too soon to take a quick peek into this year’s MLB draft. This year’s draft class is loaded with excellent hitting prospects, but is relatively weak on the pitching side.
Draft Prospects You Should Know is a new series that features prospects who the White Sox could pursue in this year’s draft. As the June draft nears, we’ll return to many of these athletes and provide updates on whether their stocks are rising (or falling).
Age listed as of Day One of the Draft (June 3).
IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Baseball America 41
At 6´6´´ and 208 pounds, Williams has quite the projectable build. The prep righthander throws from a high three-quarter arm slot, and has a repertoire consisting of a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, changeup and breaking pitch. His fastball topped out at 95 mph on the summer showcase circuit according to Perfect Game. Williams throws his two-seamer on the inside half of the plate to right-handed batters and on the outer half to lefties. This season, Williams has been working on throwing a backdoor two-seamer to right-handers. His low-to-mid 70s curveball has 11-5 tilt bordering close to 12-6, but his changeup is still a work in progress as he slows his motion down when delivering it.
MLB Pipeline grades Williams’ fastball and curveball at 55, changeup, control and slider at 50. Williams, a Mississippi native, is verbally committed to Vanderbilt.
For his size and youth, Williams’ control is actually quite good. Facially, he looks like Noah Syndergaard, or a pre-haircut version of Michael Kopech. However, Williams doesn’t have the hard heater of either flamethrower. His closest White Sox comp nonetheless may be Lucas Giolito due to Williams’ size, velocity, and repertoire.
Baseball America ranks Williams toward the end of the first round, MLB Pipeline the second, and FanGraphs has him ranked just after the White Sox’s third round selection. Prep pitchers, by their very nature, are considered huge risks; this is especially the case for a risk-adverse team like the White Sox. Thus, it seems unlikely the Sox would risk a second round selection on him. If Williams falls to the third, they may perhaps be interested in signing him. However, if interested, the team would likely have to pay an above-slot bonus in order to pry Williams from his strong commitment to Vanderbilt.
Here’s a video of Williams performing in last year’s Perfect Game National Showcase in Tampa, courtesy of 2080 Baseball:
Below is a video of Williams pitching in April’s USA Baseball National High School Invitational, again courtesy of 2080 Baseball: