East Carolina's Gavin Williams Hits 100
DURHAM, N.C.—A few hours after the second game of a three-game Duke-Bucknell series, North Carolina and East Carolina matched up within Durham Bulls Athletic Park for an extremely close—and extremely loud, thanks to Pirates fans—back-and-forth affair that the Tar Heels would eventually win, 5-4 (ECU took the series, 2-1, after winning Friday in Greenville and Sunday in Chapel Hill).
While it’s just the second weekend of the college season, it certainly felt like the stakes were higher than that Saturday night. A number of 2018 draft prospects were on display for a crowd of 4,508 and a strong showing of major league scouts.
Here are reports from the notable players between UNC and ECU Saturday night, including several impressive performances from players in future draft classes.
Austin Bergner | RHP | North Carolina
Weekend results: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 43 pitches.
The top-ranked player in the game, Bergner had a rude welcome after entering the bottom of the fifth inning with two outs and two runners on base. The 6-foot-4 righthander started with a 93 mph fastball to sophomore DH Spencer Brickhouse—who jumped on the pitch and hit a mammoth home run to straightaway center field.
“He put a great swing on it,” Bergner said after the game. “I think I left it a little up. I could have made it a better pitch for sure, but the kid was ready to hit a fastball. You just have to tip your cap and roll from there after that.”
That homer gave the Pirates a 4-3 lead, but Bergner settled in a bit afterwards, inducing a groundout on a 94 mph fastball to end the inning, working a 1-2-3 sixth and striking out two batters in the seventh before being taken out in the eighth after allowing a pair of one-out singles.
Bergner throws with a quick arm out of a three-quarter slot and an overhead windup, adding in deception by varying the speed of his leg lift and occasionally adding a second leg lift to disrupt a hitter’s timing. He gets off the rubber very well and threw his fastball mostly in the 93-94 mph range during his outing. His best secondary offering was an 83-85 mph changeup that has good fading action and generated three swings and misses in the eighth inning, but he also seemed to get over-reliant on the pitch. For instance, against his last batter—rightfielder Chandler Jenkins—Bergner started the at-bat with an 84 mph changeup that got a swing and miss. He came back with a 94 mph fastball that missed to his glove side, then went back to an 83 mph changeup for another swing and miss. When Bergner followed that up with another change, Chandler timed the pitch up and hit a hard single back up the middle, ending Bergner’s day.
In addition to the fastball/changeup combination, Bergner threw a 77-79 mph breaking ball that flashed impressive sharp bite and he did a solid job locating the pitch down in the zone, freezing one batter in the sixth inning for a looking strikeout.
Dwanya Williams-Sutton | OF | East Carolina
Weekend results: 0-for-7, 6 BB, 5 K.
Williams-Sutton didn’t do much at the plate this weekend, as his line shows and is now hitting .238/.429/.333 through seven games and 21 at-bats. Sutton showed a very patient approach Saturday night, taking first-pitch balls on four of his five plate appearances, and averaging 4.4 pitches per plate appearance in the game. Williams-Sutton does have impressive raw power and shows that in batting practice.
In the first inning, the center fielder showed a bit of his plus running ability, sprinting a far distance and making a diving stop on a ball hit into right-center field in the first plate appearance of the game. The ball was ruled a trap and not a catch, but Williams-Sutton still showcased dynamic athleticism and appeared to run a fairly direct route to the ball.
Josh Hiatt | RHP | North Carolina
Weekend results: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 24 pitches.
North Carolina’s top reliever, Hiatt entered the game in the eighth inning, relieving Bergner and walking the first batter he faced before getting the second to ground into an inning-ending double play to preserve a one-run lead with the bases loaded.
Hiatt has a short arm action on the mound and throws with high effort from a low three-quarter slot. He has obvious head whack and a hitch in his delivery, and his plant foot points towards the third base side as well on his landing. Saturday night Hiatt threw exclusively off-speed offerings in his first inning, including a plus, 86-87 mph changeup that generated two swings and misses and the ground ball that turned into a double play as well as a 79-81 mph slider with significant horizontal movement. He didn’t land the slider in the strike zone on three attempts and scrapped pitch entirely in the ninth.
Hiatt threw nine fastballs, in the 90-92 mph range, though he went to the changeup often for swings and misses (the pitch was responsible for his lone strikeout) and groundouts. After walking a pair of batters in the top of the ninth, Hiatt used an 87 mph changeup to induce a second ground ball which turned into the game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Kyle Datres | 3B | North Carolina
Weekend results: 3-for-10, 1 HR, 1 2B, 3 BB, 3 K.
Datres has been one of the few reliable bats in UNC’s lineup so far this season, he and sophomore first baseman Micahel Busch are the only two batters hitting over .300. Datres currently has a .361/.410/.521 triple slash and launched his first home run of the season Saturday night vs. Sam Lanier in the sixth inning.
Datres jumped on a 2-0 pitch—an elevated fastball—and used a quick, compact stroke to send the ball over the blue monster in left field and even the game at 4-4. While it’s early in the season, Datres has feasted on same-side pitching, hitting .474/.524/.684 against righthanders.
Hitting out of the No. 2 hole, Datres leads UNC with eight runs and is tied with Busch for a team-high 19 total bases.
Spencer Brickhouse | 1B/OF | East Carolina (2019 Class)
Weekend results: 4-for-11, 1 HR, 2 BB, 2 K.
Brickhouse showed easy plus power in-game Saturday night, hitting a massive home run against a 94 mph fastball from Bergner and hitting an extremely deep fly out again off of Bergner in the bottom of the eighth. Off the bat, it appeared to have an outside chance of going over the fence again.
Brickhouse was a Freshman All-American after hitting .310/.385/.513 with 10 home runs last season, and entered the year as the No. 3 2019 prospect in the American Athletic Conference, thanks to his powerful lefthanded bat.
The 6-foot-4, 223-pound slugger already has three homers on the season and is hitting .321/.394/.679 and leading the Pirates in slugging after seven games.
2018 Recruiting Rankings: The Next 10
On the heels of last week's top 25, we looked at 10 teams who just missed the cut, but still have impressive classes entering 2019.
Tyler Baum | RHP | North Carolina (2019 class)
Weekend results: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 82 pitches
Baum showed solid stuff throughout his outing, pitching off of a 90-93 mph fastball and regularly touching 94 throughout his outing, with a 77-82 mph slider that ended three strikeouts in his first three innings and an 82-85 mph changeup.
Baum pitched mostly from a low three-quarter arm slot, though his release point varied throughout his outing and he occasionally released pitched from a conventional three-quarter slot, with consistent long-arm hooking action in the back of his delivery.
Baum currently leads the Tar Heels with 18 strikeouts in 10 innings of work, and has allowed just two extra-base hits (both doubles). His stuff has been much more effective against same-side hitters, as Baum has struck out half of the righthanded batters he’s faced (13 of 26) and 27 percent (5 of 18) of the lefthanded batters he’s faced.
Gavin Williams | RHP | East Carolina (2020 class)
Weekend results: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 0 K, 47 pitches.
Freshman righthander Gavin Williams was a highly touted pitching prospect in the 2017 class and was ranked No. 120 on the BA 500 thanks to a big, projectable frame and easy velocity that scouts projected would get into the triple digits in the future.
The future is now, apparently, as Saturday night Williams touched 100 mph on Baseball America’s radar gun, with many surrounding guns showing 99 on the same pitch. Williams has a lightning-quick arm and sat in the 92-95 mph range for three innings, reaching back for more whenever he needed it, including a 98 mph fastball in his final inning.
Williams also threw an upper 80s changeup and threw one 74 mph breaking ball.
The tweet embedded above incorrectly states that Williams' 100 mph pitch was a strikeout. It was actually a groundout.