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Devin Williams Breaks Through In New Role

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Back on track.

That’s where 25-year-old righthander Devin Williams was at the end of the 2019 season, thanks to a turnaround that re-established him as a prospect and resulted in a long-awaited major league debut.

A 2013 second-round pick out of Hazelwood (Mo.) West High, Williams spun his wheels a bit before having Tommy John surgery in March 2017 that forced him to sit out that entire season.

When he returned to action the next year, he fared poorly at high Class A Carolina. He ran up a 5.82 ERA in 14 starts, covering only 34 innings.

"Last year was a pretty rough year for me. I was not good at all,” Williams said.

Williams' outlook improved when he moved to the bullpen at Double-A Biloxi this season. His velocity ticked up considerably and he prospered with a 2.36 ERA in 31 outings, with four saves and 76 strikeouts in 53.1 innings.

That showing earned Williams a promotion to Triple-A San Antonio, where he pitched three scoreless outings before the Brewers summoned him on Aug. 5. He would spend two stints with Milwaukee, posting a 3.95 ERA over 13 outings with 14 strikeouts in 13.2 innings.

During his recovery from Tommy John surgery, Williams added muscle that helped him throw his fastball in the mid-to-high 90s. He touched 100 mph at times. Accordingly, he became more aggressive with that pitch while also mixing in a sharp-breaking slider in the upper 80s and an improved changeup.

Williams’ breakthrough season concluded with him on the 40-man roster, and with a shot to make the big league bullpen in the spring. His high-octane stuff should play in the late innings, but Williams has learned not to get ahead of himself after finally living up to his potential.

"This year has gone how I planned it in my head,” Williams said. "It’s a culmination of all my hard work the last two years, sticking with it.

"I think my stuff can play at any level. I just have to execute and stay confident. That’s a big thing for me—maintaining confidence.”

MICROBREWS

— The Brewers re-signed righthander Deolis Guerra to a one-year, major league deal in October, thus adding him to the 40-man roster. He spent most of 2019 at Triple-A San Antonio, recording a 1.89 ERA in 45 appearances with 88 strikeouts in 66.2 innings. He held opponents to a .181 average.

— Lefthander Josh Hader fell right on the Super 2 cutoff with two years, 115 days of service, guaranteeing him a huge payday in arbitration after he established himself as one of the top relievers in the major leagues. Hader forced the Brewers to renew his contract last spring rather than formally agreeing to their terms.

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