Sunday Notes: Gavin Williams Lets His Fastball Do the Speaking

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Gavin Williams got here as marketed after I noticed him pitch earlier this month. The 24-year-old rookie right-hander’s fastball topped out at 99.3 mph, whereas his slider sat within the mid-80s and infrequently topped 90. Permitting one hit and a lone run over 5 rain-delayed innings in opposition to the Minnesota Twins, Williams was all about energy.

He additionally got here as marketed after I spoke to him on the day previous his outing. I used to be informed that the 6-foot-6, 255-pound Cleveland Guardians hurler is a person of few phrases, and that was just about the case. Whereas accommodating, Williams was something however verbose. Irrespective of. I largely received what I used to be in search of: a self-appraisal of what he brings to the desk.

“Most individuals know me for my fastball, actually,” the righty replied after I requested for a self scouting report. “That’s the principle factor individuals know me as, and it’s what I do know myself as.”

The Fayetteville, North Carolina native first hit triple digits throughout his freshman 12 months at East Carolina College, and as significant as that milestone was to his id on the mound, he acknowledges that retiring big-league hitters takes greater than pure velocity.

“I don’t assume 96 to 100 is that massive of a distinction,” Williams mentioned. “If it’s down the center it will probably get hit. Placing it the place you need to is a much bigger factor. It additionally issues the way it strikes.”

Williams will get good trip — “wherever between 16 and 18 vert” — and he additionally possesses elite perceived velocity. Per Statcast, he ranks within the 99th percentile for extension, an attribute that solely started augmenting his heater this season.

“It has modified massive time from final 12 months to this 12 months,” defined Williams, who debuted with the Guardians on June 21 and has a 3.43 ERA and a 4.22 FIP over 76 big-league innings. “Final 12 months it was 6-5 extension, and this 12 months it’s extra like 7-5. We fastened some issues mechanically. I’m staying extra linked to the rubber now. I’m not chopping myself off; I’m staying extra direct to the plate.”

Williams answered “completely” after I requested if he identifies as an influence pitcher, and Carl Willis used the identical time period when appraising the highly-regarded teenager. In accordance with Cleveland’s pitching coach, what the hard-thrower largely wants is extra repetitions in opposition to baseball’s greatest hitters.

“He’s received the ability, and he spins the ball nicely, so t’s only a matter of gaining extra expertise,” mentioned Willis. “With expertise comes consistency. A pitcher with great things can out-stuff a hitter within the minors, however t’s much more troublesome to try this at this stage. There are some belongings you simply can’t replicate within the minor leagues. The extra major-league hitters he’ll face, the extra comfy he’ll get, and the extra constant he’s going to get. He’s received an opportunity to be a extremely good pitcher up right here.”

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RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

Keith Drumright went 3 for 4 in opposition to Luis Leal.

Mark Bellhorn went 8 for 11 in opposition to Jimmy Haynes.

Kevin Bass went 8 for 11 in opposition to Rich Gossage.

Steve Sax went 9 for 18 in opposition to Ben McDonald.

Piano Legs Hickman went 9 for 28 in opposition to Highball Wilson.

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Doug Clark had 2,384 skilled hits in a enjoying profession that spanned the 1998-2015 seasons and included stops in Korea, Mexico, and a number of other minor-league outposts stateside. Considered one of them stands out above the remaining. On June 28, 2006, Clark stroked a single whereas sporting an Oakland Athletics uniform.

Seventeen years later, he remembers his lone big-league hit prefer it was yesterday.

“It was in San Diego,” recalled Clark, who’s now the hitting coach for the Portland Sea Canine, Boston’s Double-A affiliate. Frank Thomas was on the [injured list] on the time. We’d gone to Colorado and San Francisco, and I’d had some pinch-hit at-bats and are available up empty. Then, in San Diego, Joe Blanton was on the mound for us and was struggling. [Manager] Ken Macha informed me that his spot was arising second, and if he will get out of the inning he’s accomplished. So, I ran all the way down to the tunnel.

Bobby Kielty was one in every of my teammates, and he was down there feeding the tee, feeding me soft-toss, increase increase increase. We knew one another from Triple-A, and we have been speaking about it. First hit is particular, proper? It was, ‘Right here we go, right here we go; base hit up the center.’ Growth increase increase.

Clay Hensley was on the mound. No person was on. Mike Piazza was catching. I step as much as the plate. First pitch, a two-seam and I swing over it. Second pitch, one other two-seam and I swing over it much more. Third pitch is a two-seamer that sticks center and I clock it on the barrel. Line drive to heart area. Mike Cameron is the centerfielder. He comes working in and it appears like he’s going to get it, however it drops in. I spherical first base….”

At this level within the telling, emotion kicks in. Clark pauses for a number of seconds to compose himself earlier than persevering with.

“Eager about it will get me going,” admitted Clark, who went 1-for-11 in a pair of big-league cups of espresso. “To present that ball to my dad, to my mother, to reside that second… that’s what I need these guys to really feel. It’s a giant motive I’m teaching. I imply, once you’re rounding first base after that first one, it’s like the whole lot flashes in your head. It’s particular. It truly is.”

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A quiz:

Pete Rose performed in 3,562 video games, probably the most in MLB historical past. Which participant ranks second all-time in video games performed?

The reply could be discovered under.

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NEWS NOTES

Daniel Nicolaisen has resigned from his place as St. Louis Cardinals assistant hitting coach and can now function an assistant coach with the College of Mississippi’s softball program. Nicolaisen spent three years within the Cardinals group.

The Sabermetrics, Scouting, and the Science of Baseball convention (aka Saberseminar) isn’t solely a can’t-miss occasion for analytics nerds, it’s also a charity occasion. This summer time’ get-together raised $53,600, $48,500 of which went to the Alliance to Remedy Cavernous Malformation.

Marc Topkin, Andy Freed, and the late Dave Wills shall be formally inducted into the Sports activities Membership of Tampa Bay Corridor of Fame tomorrow (Monday, September 18). Joey Knight wrote about the well-deserving trio at Tampabay.com.

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The reply to the quiz is Carl Yastrzemski, who performed in 3,308 video games. Henry Aaron ranks third, with 3,298 video games performed.

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As common readers of this column know, I’ve lately requested quite a few MLB managers which groups have most impressed them this season. Aaron Boone was the most recent to area that query, which I prefaced by saying that the Atlanta Braves have been a preferred reply.

“The Braves are nice, sure,” the New York Yankees skipper replied. “However Baltimore, and what they’ve grow to be over the past year-plus, sort of coinciding with Adley Rutschman getting referred to as up… they’re actually good. They’ve a variety of different younger impression gamers, too. And Tampa with what they’ve been capable of do; they’ve been by means of a variety of accidents this 12 months and have survived, have navigated by means of it. I additionally got here away actually impressed with the Twins. Lots of people assume, ‘Oh, they’re going to win the American League Central,’ however I feel they go into the playoffs with an actual likelihood. They’ve beginning pitching, and their position-player group, particularly if they will get somewhat well being going on the finish of the 12 months, is fairly good. I feel they’re extra harmful than individuals may give them credit score for.”

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The 2023 FanGraphs Staff Predictions have been printed on March 30, and I used to be something however Nostradamus with most of my picks. One particularly stands out for its inaccuracy. Not solely did I’ve the St. Louis Cardinals profitable the Nationwide League pennant, I had them happening to prime the Twins within the World Sequence. That clearly gained’t occur. At 65-83, the perennial contender has been one of the vital disappointing groups in baseball.

My failed prognostication apart, why have the 2023 Cardinals underachieved to the extent that they’ve? I lately requested that query to Jack Flaherty, whom St. Louis dealt to the Orioles on the August 1 commerce deadline.

“There are a variety of solutions to that query,” responded the right-hander, who had been within the Cardinals group since 2014. “However generally issues simply don’t work out. You’ve got all of the items, a variety of guys returning… I imply, I didn’t pitch nice. I used to be up and down. However once more, generally issues simply don’t work out, regardless of how good the staff is. That’s baseball. That’s all sports activities, truthfully. It occurs on a regular basis. For no matter motive, it doesn’t work out.”

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

The Hanshin Tigers clinched their first NPB Central League pennant since 2005 with a 4-3 win over the Yomiuri Giants on Thursday. Kazuma Okamoto hit his league-best thirty ninth residence run — he’s since notched quantity 40 — for the dropping aspect.

Nippon-Ham Fighters outfielder Chusei Mannami hit each a leadoff residence run and a walk-off residence run within the Hokkaido-based membership’s 3-1 win over the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on Saturday. The one different NPB batter to bash each a leadoff and a game-ending round-tripper for his staff was Alonzo Powell, who did so with the Chinuchi Dragons in 1993.

Shota Imanaga leads all NPB pitchers with 163 strikeouts. The 30-year-old Yokohama BayStars left-hander is 7-3 with a 2.71 ERA over 136 innings.

Atsuki Taneichi is 10-5 with a 2.88 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 128 innings for NPB’s Chiba Lotte Marines. The 25-year-old right-hander’s Okay whole is tops in NPB’s Pacific League, proper in entrance of Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s 145.

The LG Twins boast the KBO’s greatest document at 72-47. Erstwhile MLB outfielder Austin Dean is slashing .311/.370/.492 with 18 residence runs for the Seoul-based membership.

Si Hwan Roh leads all KBO hitters with 30 residence runs. The 22-year-old Hanwha Eagles third baseman is slashing .301/.391/.557.

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Danny Coulombe is flying beneath the radar as an Oriole. To comparatively little fanfare, the 33-year-old southpaw has come out of the Baltimore bullpen 54 occasions and is 5-1 with a pair of saves and a 2.38 ERA. In final week’s Sunday Notes column, Coulombe was referred to as the membership’s most-underrated participant by an O’s scribe.

His identify had appeared in earlier Sunday Notes columns, together with one which ran two years in the past this month. Then with the Minnesota Twins, the erstwhile Texas Tech Purple Raider informed of how he’d been making common visits to FanGraphs whereas taking an internet venture administration class at Grand Canyon College. With that 2021 dialog in thoughts, I lately caught up with Coulombe for an replace on his academic pursuit.

“I completed the diploma,” the veteran reliever informed me. “I’d studied finance and enterprise at Texas Tech, and determined that at this level of my life I wanted to try this. The diploma was in Enterprise Administration.”

As famous within the 2021 column, Coulombe tackled an necessary baseball subject throughout his research.

“I wrote a paper on how one can shorten video games and make the sport higher,” he defined. “The most important subject in baseball was useless time, and as we’ve see this 12 months, the pitch clock has created much less of it. Once they tried it within the minor leagues, I feel it saved about 20 minutes. I used to be truly somewhat shocked after they carried out it up right here, however it’s labored nicely. I feel MLB did a reasonably good job.”

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FARM NOTES

Andrew Cossetti completed the common season with a .287/.426/.534 slash line, 15 residence runs, and a 163 wRC+ between Low-A Fort Myers and Excessive-A Cedar Rapids. The 23-year-old catcher was chosen within the eleventh spherical of the 2022 draft by the Minnesota Twins out of St. Josephs College.

Alan Roden is slashing .320/.425/.465 with 10 residence runs and a 152 wRC+ between Excessive-A Vancouver and Double-A New Hampshire. The 23-year-old outfielder was taken within the third spherical of the 2022 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Creighton College.

Alex Cornwell is 7-3 with a 2.87 ERA, a 3.19 FIP, and 102 strikeouts to go along with simply 23 walks in 119-and-a-third innings between Excessive-A Peoria and Double-A Springfield. The 24-year-old southpaw was chosen within the fifteenth spherical of the 2021 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals out of the College of Southern California.

Jose Varela went 5-1 with two saves, a 2.49 ERA, and 71 strikeouts in 47 Dominican Summer season League innings. The 18-year-old right-hander from Wichita, Texas was signed by the Houston Astros as a non-drafted free agent in July 2022.

Starlyn Caba slashed .301/.423/.346 with 28 walks and simply 16 strikeouts over 164 plate appearances within the Dominican Summer season League. The 17-year-old, switch-hitting shortstop was signed out of Bonao, Dominican Republic by the Philadelphia Phillies in January.

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Jacob deGrom thinks he’s a shortstop, and he all the time has.”

That sentence leads a chapter in Jonathan Mayo’s new guide, Smart, Wrong, and Lucky: The Origin Stories of Baseball’s Unexpected Stars, and because the MiLB.com author goes on to elucidate, deGrom turned a pitcher somewhat reluctantly. Whereas at Stetson College, the two-time Cy Young award winner truly walked away from his summer time ball staff — one managed by World Sequence-winning supervisor Davey Johnson — as a result of he wasn’t getting a chance to log at-bats as an infielder. Solely by means of cajoling was Stetson’s head coach capable of get the two-way participant to take the mound greater than sometimes as a collegian.

The suitable-hander, whom the New York Mets took within the ninth spherical of the 2010 draft, logged 4 wins, two saves, and a 4.44 ERA in 83-and-a-third NCAA innings. As a hitter, he slashed .255/.299/.300 in 330 at bats. As Mayo additionally chronicled in his must-read guide, deGrom hit his solely collegiate residence run off of Chris Sale.

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LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

At NW Baseball Historical past, Amanda Lane Cumming wrote about Bill Caudill and the Nineteen Eighties Seattle Mariners bullpen cart.

The Baltimore Orioles honored Adam Jones previous to Friday evening’s sport at Camden Yards. Dan Connolly has the story at SportsNaut.

The Rating’s Travis Sawchik wrote about how the knee-down catching revolution modified catching with out downgrading protection.

MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis put collectively an all-breakout prospect team for 2023.

The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli interviewed former Chicago White Sox Director of Participant Personnel David Wilder, who spent two years in federal jail resulting from a bonus-skimming scandal within the Dominican Republic. (subscription required.)

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RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Zach McAllister, whom the New York Yankees drafted and signed in 2006, made his Yankees debut this previous Tuesday. Per the Elias Sports activities Bureau, the 17-year hole between being drafted and debuting with the Yankees is the longest in franchise historical past.

Tampa Bay’s Colin Poche has been credited with 12 aid wins this 12 months, probably the most within the majors. Kansas Metropolis’s Carlos Hernández and Minnesota’s Griffin Jax have every been charged with 10 losses as a relievers, probably the most within the majors.

Firpo Marberry turned the primary pitcher in MLB historical past to document no less than 20 saves in a single season when he logged 22 for the Washington Senators in 1926. The suitable-hander from Streetman, Texas led the American League in saves six occasions.

Luis Arraez has a .351 batting common and a 132 wRC+.
Isaac Paredes has a .249 batting common and a 137 wRC+.

Mike Trout has 368 residence runs in 6,521 plate appearances. Ralph Kiner had 369 residence runs in 6.256 plate appearances.

On as we speak’s date in 1999, Dante Bichette and Todd Helton each left the yard twice because the Rockies pummeled the Los Angeles Dodgers 18-10 at Coors Discipline. Larry Walker and Ben Petrick contributed to Colorado’s six-dinger onslaught.

Dave Kingman went deep for the New York Yankees on as we speak’s date in 1977, giving him residence runs with 4 completely different groups on the season. The slugger additionally homered that 12 months for the California Angels, New York Mets, and San Diego Padres.

Ernie Banks turned the primary Black participant in Chicago Cubs franchise historical past when he made his MLB debut on as we speak’s date in 1953. The Corridor of Fame shortstop/first baseman performed with the Negro Nationwide League’s Kansas Metropolis Monarchs previous to signing with the Cubs earlier that month.

Gamers born on as we speak’s date embody Bob Dillinger, a 3rd baseman who led the American League in stolen bases in 1947, 1948, and 1949 whereas enjoying with the St. Louis Browns. The College of Idaho product swiped 67 baggage with the Western League’s Lincoln Hyperlinks in 1939.

Additionally born on as we speak’s date was Sheriff Blake, who pitched for 5 groups, primarily the Chicago Cubs, from 1920-1937. The suitable-hander from Ansted, West Virginia went 17-11 with a 2.47 ERA with the Cubs in 1928.



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