Brandon Williamson is a small-town child trying to make a mark in Cincinnati. Chosen by Seattle within the second spherical of the 2019 draft out of Texas Christian College, the 25-year-old southpaw from Welcome, Minnesota (inhabitants: 701) was acquired by the Reds from the Mariners as half a six-player commerce previous to final season. Since making his MLB debut two months in the past, he has a 4.96 ERA and a 5.51 FIP over 11 outings comprising 52.2 innings.
His potential exceeds his modest efficiency up to now. No. 9 on our preseason Reds High Prospects listing with a forty five FV, Williamson has, within the phrases of Eric Longenhagen, “an excellent shot to pitch towards the again of a contender’s rotation.” The rate is nothing to jot down residence about — his heater is averaging a pedestrian 92.5 mph — however as our lead prospect analyst additionally famous, “His means to combine [five] choices in an unpredictable trend nonetheless excites scouts.”
Williamson mentioned his arsenal and method when the Reds visited Boston on the finish of Could.
David Laurila: Based mostly in your expertise, how do the Mariners and Reds examine by way of pitching improvement?
Brandon Williamson: “On the finish of the day, it’s nonetheless baseball. They’re each making an attempt to get you to throw good pitches over the plate as a lot as potential. Each worth strikeouts, however that’s unanimous across the sport. There are possibly a couple of variations. The Mariners possibly goal extra form. I assume that’s in all probability the largest distinction, concentrating on extra shapes.”
Laurila: There’s much less give attention to that with Cincinnati?
Williamson: “I wouldn’t essentially say much less, it’s extra how they go about it. Seattle could be very numbers and TrackMan-driven. Not that right here isn’t. I assume you can say that right here it’s extra of a pitch-use, mechanical method. It’s extra of a mixture.”
Laurila: With mechanics in thoughts, I’ve learn that command has been a problem for you. Is that also a priority?
Williamson: “It hasn’t been all alongside. Final 12 months… earlier than that, I wasn’t a man who walked a bunch of individuals. I don’t really feel prefer it’s horrible. Is it a problem? You could possibly say that, nevertheless it’s not like, ‘Oh my gosh, you possibly can’t pitch.’ It’s extra a matter of ‘How can I constantly use my stuff within the zone?’ It’s not that I’m wild, I simply have to successfully throw all of my pitches within the zone and have the ability to repeat that.”
Laurila: Have mechanics been the largest problem when your command hasn’t been sharp?
Williamson: “It’s simply inconsistencies in sure issues. My mechanics may very well be inconsistent. My mindset on issues may very well be inconsistent. I may very well be making an attempt too many new issues, too many alternative issues. That’s the training curve proper now, doing issues at a excessive degree repeatably.”
Laurila: Are you able to give an instance of one thing you’ve tried to do otherwise?
Williamson: “Effectively, I’ve been throwing on the primary base aspect of the rubber recently. That’s to offer my cutter and slider extra room and make them simpler to land. The cutter is fairly new to me. I didn’t throw one till the final couple outings of final 12 months after which didn’t actually use it in any respect early this 12 months. I simply introduced it again just lately. I additionally throw a distinct grip slider now. That’s since late in spring coaching.”
Laurila: [Reds TV analyst] Chris Welsh advised me that you simply’ve dialed down your effort degree in current outings. I don’t recall his actual wording, however he mentioned that you simply’d been making an attempt to drive velocity.
Williamson: “I imply, a couple of begins in the past, in St. Louis, I used to be making an attempt to do an excessive amount of. I used to be making an attempt to throw too exhausting. I used to be making an attempt to essentially rip stuff and make it nasty. While you do this, it makes issues worse. It makes [pitching] tougher, not simpler. So yeah, I’ve been making an attempt to get to some extent the place I really feel like I can nonetheless transfer quick and successfully, however at a slower tempo.”
Laurila: Overthrowing often hampers command, however what about motion? Has that been affected if you’ve tried to do an excessive amount of?
Williamson: “Not likely. So long as you possibly can maintain that very same intent all through your entire pitches… the entire level of throwing as exhausting as you on can each pitch is that the whole lot appears to be like related popping out of your hand. If you are able to do that whereas being in command of your physique, it’s an excellent factor.”
Laurila: I recall studying that you simply have been lacking above the zone along with your four-seamer fairly a bit final 12 months. Is that correct?
Williamson: “That’s very correct. I’ve by no means tried to trip the baseball, however I throw it and it does trip. I get some lower, too, however there may be trip.”
Laurila: Inform me extra about your slider and cutter.
Williamson: “I consider my cutter as a tough slider. I don’t like how gradual my sweeper is, though I do like how massive it’s. I additionally like having a tough one, and that’s the place we emphasize the cutter. I imply, we name it a cutter. Typically it’s extra of a slider — a tougher, cutter-ish one.
“With the sweeper, I’m getting in all probability eight extra inches than I acquired with my outdated slider. It was often round 9 to eleven, and now it’s anyplace from 15 to 19. I realized it from Alon [Leichman], our assistant pitching coach. He confirmed me a grip, a couple of different issues, and I began utilizing it.”
Laurila: How would you outline your self as a pitcher? Are you extra energy, extra finesse…
Williamson: “I attempt to finesse with a thought means of energy stuff. I need all of my pitches to be no less than considerably swing-and-miss. I throw 5 pitches, and most energy guys don’t throw 5 pitches, so I assume I’m form of like a hybrid between these. I believe that each one of my pitches, once they’re on, are actually good. I don’t throw 98 [mph], however I do throw with a level of energy.”
Laurila: Grading your pitches, which might you say are above, or under, the others?
Williamson: “I don’t take a look at it like that. I grade them based mostly on how they’re feeling and the way I can use them in a sport. I don’t consider one being higher than one other, it’s extra of, ‘While you do you wish to use them?’ and ‘Can I take advantage of them that day?’”
Laurila: You don’t have what you take into account a finest pitch.
Williamson: “No. That might virtually be unfair to the opposite ones. I like all of them.”
Laurila: Type of what individuals typically say about kids.
Williamson: “Precisely. I like them the identical.”