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.

19 Responses

  1. Matt

    He’ll almost definitely start in Louisville, and I think he’ll settle in and find some control, settling in at around 3.5-4 BB/9, eventually earning a call up when the need for another arm arises.

  2. SultanofSwaff

    More and more when making quickie player comparisons on baseball reference or whatever for pitchers I look at the HR allowed, especially when the K/BB ratios are maybe not what you want. To me, suppressing power can be an indicator that they’re stuff will play at the higher levels. BW has that ability which makes me think he has a bright future. More than anything, I think he just needs to become more repeatable mechanically and the rest will take care of itself.
    Considering what the Cubs just gave Taillon for a league average ERA+, the Reds would be smart to give BW and Abbott and Dunn a lot of leash in 2023 because there’s not much in free agency better than what they have in house.

    • Chi Reds Fan

      To your point about Taillon (and Taijuan Walker is a similar case), what scares me as a forlorn Reds fan is not so much what Trea Turner and Aaron Judge received but what the Taillons, Walkers, and for that matter Cody Bellingers and Andrew Heaneys are getting. The bifurcation between the Reds, Pirates, Rays, A’s etc. and the big market teams just keeps getting wider and wider. Few seem to care but the NFL and NBA have this salary thing figured out (hard caps AND hard floors). Will MLB ever move towards a similar system?

      • Optimist

        A question about caps and floors. It may be hilariously weak compared with the other sports, but the league minimum salary is a floor, and the luxury tax is the rudiments of a cap. While the minimum is “hard” it is really minimal, and the tax very contingent and ineffectual.

        Still, it’s a place for MLBPA to start.

      • BK

        I don’t know. The NBA also solved the revenue-sharing problem across market sizes. Their 82-game schedule is similar to MLB’s 162-game schedule in that each team has a regional affiliation for televising non-national games.

        Sometimes unions grow a life of their own. MLBPA seems to revel in perpetuating animosity likely to show the Players how much they need the union. MLBPA was a pioneer in unionizing pro sports players. There was a time when a more militant approach was necessary. I would argue that by maintaining the current system, they are undermining pro baseball and thereby hurting players. Changing cultures is difficult. It will be hard for them to change their tune on a salary cap given that they went on strike to oppose it even though all available evidence demonstrates that the leagues that designated a fixed amount of revenue for players are outpacing MLB revenue growth while also having less labor/management strife.

      • Tom

        Yet look at the Cards, they plug in Contreras at a rate somewhat similar to Moustakas because it was a clear need to round out their team. If the Reds can have a similar approach, I think they can find better deals. In fact the Cubs are another team I’d emulate once the Reds “can spend again”. Their deals are relatively low risk, high reward. The players are getting more than expected, which I’ll definitely agree, isn’t good for us Reds fans.

      • patrick

        The Reds make the choice to be cheap and are mis-managed.
        The Padres a very similar market has payroll near 200M
        Stop buying into the crying poor.

        The NBA is one of the most predictable leagues in the world with little or no parity. Also they have big differences in payrolls LA Clippers 191 Golden State 189M while San Antonio 75M Houston 73M

        In sports good organization win and bad ones lose.
        Even with salary cap/floor the Reds will still be bad.

      • Tom

        Patrick, the going back an forth on this topic deserves a full 60 minutes expose. The accusations on both sides are fairly high stakes, although, “where else you gonna go?”

      • BK

        @Patrick, I did not say anything at all to defend the current Red’s ownership group. The Reds have fallen well short under their watch and there are multiple examples of Ownership foiling good baseball moves along the way.

        The Padres will be a good team to monitor over the next five years or so. It will be interesting to see how the significant commitments they’ve made age over the next several years.

        WRT the NBA, both San Antonio and Houston are below the floor. They will take on additional payroll at the trade deadline in exchange for young talent or draft assets. The other 28 teams are right up on the salary cap or above. Teams that significantly exceed the cap do so by retaining their own talent. There are strict limits on how much a team can exceed the cap via free agency or trades.

        In contrast to MLB, small market teams are thriving. Milwaukee and Cleveland have won titles in the last ten years and are in the top 3 in the East as of today. New Orleans and Memphis are in the top 3 in the West. Steph Curry is the reason Golden State has dominated in the last 10 years, not the Bay Area’s market size.

      • patrick

        As far as NBA small markets like Sacramento, Charlotte, New Orleans unless they get lucky and have a Lebron or Greek freak fall into their they will continue to be doormats. As you saw Lebron being from Ohio is the only reason cleveland won the title and they were lucky in the finals that year. It is just not Curry that made GS great they had the money to fill weak spots. NBA has the least parity in sports

        Success in sports is about front offices more than money. Golden State, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New England Patriots. The Red Sox Dodgers Astros and Cubs did not win anything until they fixed their front offices. Giants and Cardinals have good front offices. Even the successful small markets in baseball Rays/A’s/Indians/Brewers have done way more with less.

    • Redsvol

      I wholeheartedly agree sultan. I can’t believe the monopoly $ these front offices are throwing around this off season. 13$ million per year for league average pitchers. 7$ million a year for old utility infielders. Obviously some clubs are flush with cash. Better sign these young players this off season if the front office has a clue.

      • Doug Gray

        A fun reminder that a league average player, in free agency, is worth about $16M a year.

      • Chi Reds Fan

        Re BK’s comment, when I say MLB I mean not only the owners but the players. The current system is the result of many negotiations. Personally I believe the NBA/NFL systems are better at maximizing league revenues (due to enhanced competition) which grows the pie for all involved instead of optimizing things for the biggest markets and perhaps the top stars. The system now makes it very rational for the smaller markets to stay out of high value free agent deals.

  3. Frankie Tomatoes

    I liked this pick up (hated the trade but thought Williamson was good) at the time but what a disappointing year. Hope he can get back to throwing strikes. The Reds can not afford to miss out on key players in trades if they are not going to spend any money.

  4. DaveCT

    Doug, can you talk more about the challenges Williamson had with his fastball?

    I saw bits and pieces throughout the season (1st half especially) that he was having trouble with his velocity, as well as control/command. Was there anything to it that he might have had a nagging injury?

  5. DaveCT

    Blake Sabol, Rule 5 pick. LH hitting outfielder (LF). Bigger guy, 6’4″ 210-15 or so. Sounds like Jesse Winker.