Garrett Williams has wasted little time cementing himself as the ace of the San Jose Giants pitching staff as the team fights for a second-half division title.
The left-hander from Oklahoma State, drafted in the seventh round in 2016, was promoted from Augusta to San Jose last week and shined with 10 strikeouts in six scoreless innings in his debut outing.
Wednesday in Stockton, Williams also pitched six scoreless frames, but things transpired a little differently. Take a look at the video footage and then we'll chat.
Williams escaped the first inning unscathed, despite throwing more balls (7) than strikes (6). In fact, through the first three innings, Williams's ball total still eclipsed his strike total as it sat at 24 balls and 21 strikes at the end of the third. But over the final half of his outing, Williams threw 30 strikes and 15 balls en route to six of his eight strikeouts.
From a three-quarter arm slot, Williams was dominant early to left-handers. But as the game went on, he used the same power curve to steal strikes and produce swing-throughs against right-handers, as well. Five of his eight punch outs came against righties.
Williams threw three pitches throughout the night: four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, and curveball. The four-seam had the highest velocity and reached as high as 95 mph. The two-seamer featured decent sinking action away from right-handers and sat in the 91-92 range. Then came the secondary pitch Williams is known for – a sweeping breaking ball that came in anywhere from 79 to 83. He does have a changeup in the bag, and though I thought I may have seen a few, I confirmed with both left-hander Mark Reyes and radio broadcaster Joe Ritzo that Williams did not throw a change during this outing.
What made this night so different from last week's in San Jose was the amount swinging strikes induced. When he struck out 10 eight days ago, Williams utilized 18 swinging strikes among 92 total pitches. In Stockton, he totaled only eight in 90, though there were a number of balls just barely tipped that might as well fall into the whiff category.
And though he threw more balls in start number two, he kept his walk total to two, while he allowed three free passes last week.
The common denominators, at least in this small sample size, are the ability to steal strikes with both the fastball and curveball (16 called strikes last week, 17 yesterday) and limiting the amount of extra-base hits (none since joining San Jose and only four over his last 39.1 innings).
Notable moments from the night:
- 1:52: Williams notches his first strikeout with a front door breaking ball for a called strike three.
- 3:07: Strikeout number two comes in exactly like the first, just a hair slower with more break.
- 4:54: The first swinging strike-three of the night comes against a lefty on the inner half.
- 4:56: Williams strikes out his fourth, this time on three pitches. Fastball, fastball, curveball.
- 5:27: The best two-seamer of the night forces a swing-through.
- 6:06: The heater up in the zone for a whiff to set up strikeout number six with the curveball.
- 6:32: Another curveball in the dirt. Seventh strikeout.
- 6:59: Back-to-back looking strikes, one fastball and one curveball.
You can still see a bit of what caused Williams to walk batters at an 11% clip in his rookie season. He missed often armside to right-handers. But you can also see why the Giants are high on him. The strikeout numbers were absent in 2016. They are certainly present now. Will he be able to groove a changeup over the next few years?
— Curiosity is peaking to discover what set of circumstances came together for Salem-Keizer Volcanoes right-hander John Russell to do what he's managing to do right now. The 16th-round pick this year from the University of Connecticut has struck out an absolutely insane 61.5% of the 39 batters he has faced over his last six appearances. He struck out the side last night, and has allowed just one baserunner in his last seven innings.
— Camilo Doval has found a similar groove in the AZL as he has struck out 49.0% of the last 47 batters he's faced. Over his last 15.2 innings, only eight opposing players have reached base against him. Three hits, three hit batsmen, and two walks make up the eight baserunners. Doval is 20 as of last month and on this pace, should find himself in either Salem-Keizer or Augusta in 2018.
— Two minor league hitters have 19 hits in their last 10 games. San Jose's Jonah Arenado added to his total with a double on Wednesday, making it eight doubles, a triple, and a home run amongst the 19 hits. Salem-Keizer's Logan Baldwin, rocking a 164 wRC+, has four doubles, two triples, and a home run to make up seven of his 19.
— Domenic Mazza's last eight starts look like this: 52.2 IP, 39 H, 13 ER, 6 BB, 51 K, 2.22 ERA. In his most recent outing, he gave up one run on six hits and no walks while striking out eight. At 16.7%, he owns the third highest K-BB% mark in the Giants' system among starting pitchers.
- Sacramento: Roberto Gomez (4.76 ERA, 1.49 WHIP)
- Richmond: Cory Taylor (4.35 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
- San Jose: Jake McCasland (4.80 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)
- Augusta: Caleb Baragar (4.63 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
- Salem-Keizer: Jose Marte (6.15 ERA, 1.75 WHIP)
TOP-30 PROSPECTS ROUNDUP
- Christian Arroyo: DNP
- Tyler Beede: DNP
- Chris Shaw: 1-for-4, R, HR, SO
- Heliot Ramos: 1-for-3, R, BB, SB
- Bryan Reynolds: 2-for-5, 2 R, BB, SO
- Austin Slater: DNP
- Steven Duggar: 4-for-6, 2 R, HR, SO
- Aramis Garcia: 1-for-4
- Sandro Fabian: 2-for-3, CS
- Heath Quinn: DNP
- Andrew Suarez: DNP
- Joan Gregorio: DNP
- Seth Corry: DNP
- Ryder Jones: 1-for-4, SO
- Jacob Gonzalez: 1-for-4, R, 2B, BB, CS
- C.J. Hinojosa: 1-for-3, R, 2B, BB, SO
- Shaun Anderson: DNP
- Kyle Crick: DNP
- Garrett Cave: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K
- Garrett Williams: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K
- Sam Coonrod: 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K
- Jordan Johnson: DNP
- Melvin Adon: DNP
- Miguel Gomez: DNP
- Kelvin Beltre: 0-for-3
- Matt Krook: DNP
- Reyes Moronta: DNP
- Rodolfo Martinez: DNP
- Stephen Woods: DNP
- Bryce Johnson: 2-for-4