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Guardians' Gavin Williams Intimidates With Presence, Stuff



Righthander Gavin Williams could be the next high-impact graduate of the Guardians’ pitching factory, and if he is, he won’t be hard to spot.

“When he walks into the ballpark, or onto the mound, you know he’s there,” Lake County manager Greg DiCenzo said of the 6-foot-6, 238-pound Williams, the 23rd overall pick in 2021 out of East Carolina.

In his first taste of full-season ball this year, the 23-year-old Williams opened plenty of eyes by shutting down plenty of bats.

In a combined 25 starts for High-A Lake County and Double-A Akron, Williams recorded a 1.96 ERA in 115 innings and led the minors with a .173 opponent average. He struck out 149 and walked 40.

“He’s got all the tools, for sure,” DiCenzo said. “He’s learning how we value pitching in our organization, the way we try to set the standard for young arms and how to develop them at the appropriate rate. We’re not rushing guys, but we are challenging them.”

Williams met all the challenges this year. With a 70-grade fastball and mountain man frame, Williams averaged 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings and had a 0.95 WHIP.

“He’s got a fastball in the upper 90s, so he can dominate with his fastball, but he’s learning to utilize his other pitches,” DiCenzo said. “He’s also a really physically intimidating pitcher, with quite a presence on the mound.”

Williams augments his repertoire with a curveball, slider and solid makeup.

“He wants the ball,” DiCenzo said. “He’s not afraid to compete, and he’s not afraid to fail. If he doesn’t have a successful sequence of pitches—for some young pitchers that can have an adverse effect on how they compete the rest of that inning.

"For him, although he didn’t struggle or falter very much, when he did, he got right back on the horse again, and competed his head off. For a young pitcher, that’s always good to see.”

Williams appears to be fast-tracking his way into a position of prominence in the Guardians’ next wave of homegrown arms.

SHORT NOTES

— A record 16 players made their MLB debuts with the Guardians in 2022. One of the last was one of the most impressive: 24-year-old outfielder Will Brennan, who at Triple-A Columbus and Double-A Akron hit a combined .314/.371/.479 with 40 doubles, 13 home runs and 107 RBIs in 129 games. He then hit his way into consideration for Cleveland’s postseason roster with a strong finish.

— Shortstop Gabriel Arias hit his first major league home run in a late-season callup and was even given a trial at first base, a position that Cleveland might have to address in the offseason.

Tink Hence (Mike Janes Four Seam Images)

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