Like many of the prospects rated ahead of him on this years list, Brandon Williamson was not a Cincinnati Reds player when the 2022 year began. Once the lockout was lifted the Reds and Seattle Mariners got together for a trade that sent Williamson over to Cincinnati
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Coming off of a strong 2021 season between High-A and Double-A it was a bit surprising that Cincinnati sent Brandon Williamson back to Double-A to begin the year after he had a successful 13 starts there in the previous season. The Reds may have seen what was coming in the spring, though, because Williamson struggled big time in April as he walked 15 batters in 16.1 innings and posted a 6.61 ERA over his four April starts with Chattanooga.
Over the next five weeks he turned things around a bit as he made six starts with a 2.31 ERA. In his 35.0 innings he walked just 13 batters and struck out 35, while giving up just one home run. But things went in the other direction shortly after that as in his next four starts he only finished the 5th inning one time, walking 12 batters in his 16.0 innings and posting a 5.63 ERA. Despite his struggles with the Lookouts, Cincinnati promoted Williamson to Triple-A Louisville at the end of June.
Once he arrived in Louisville things continued to be a bit of a mixed bag. In five starts in July he posted an ERA of 2.37, but also failed to record an out in the 5th inning in three of his five starts while walking 13 batters with just 17 strikeouts. During August he continued to struggle with consistency as he walked 15 batters with 21 strikeouts in 24.0 innings with a 5.25 ERA. That was followed up by three starts in September to round out the season. The lefty posted a 2.89 ERA in 9.1 innings with nine walks and 11 strikeouts.
For all 2022 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Brandon Williamson Scouting Report
Position: Left-handed pitcher | B/T: R/L
Height: 6′ 6″ | Weight: 210 lbs | Acquired: 2nd Round, 2019 Draft (Mariners), Trade (March 2022)
Born: April 2, 1998
Fastball | The pitch works in the 92-94 MPH range and will touch a tad higher.
Curveball | An above-average to plus breaking ball that works in the mid-to-upper 70’s.
Slider | An average offering that works in the low 80’s.
Change Up | An average offering that works in the low-to-mid 80’s.
The stuff is there for Brandon Williamson to be a quality big league starter. He’s got four average or better offerings. During the 2022 season his stuff wasn’t always at that level, though. He didn’t just battle consistency with his stuff, though, he battled consistency with throwing strikes. During the 2021 season he walked 33 batters in 98.1 innings. In 2022 he walked 77 batters in 122.2 innings.
Where Williamson did find success was limiting power from the hitters he faced. In 27 starts hitters had 25 doubles, 4 triples, and just 9 home runs in 554 plate appearances against him. That’s been a theme for his career.
Finding a way to be more consistent from outing to outing will be the key for Williamson moving forward. If he can throw more strikes he can become a big league starting pitcher. But without that he’s going to have a tough time breaking into the rotation and may need to give relief a shot. Cincinnati isn’t going to close the book on him starting in 2023, but he will need to find the strikezone more often than he did last season if he’s going to find success at the next level.
Interesting Stat on Brandon Williamson
Opponents slugged .508 against Williamson in four starts in April and hit three home runs against him in just 61 at-bats. From May through the end of the year he limited opponents to a .356 slugging percentage with just six home runs allowed in 402 at-bats.