As always, no better place to get your Royals minor league coverage than Royals Farm Report dot com. We’re here for you, Royals fans.
Anyways. Before the draft yesterday morning we at Royals Farm Report concluded that Sam McWilliams was probably the #1 target for Kansas City with the #2 pick in the Rule 5 Draft. McWilliams is a 6′ 7″ RHP that just recently turned 23 years old and possesses a 95 mph fastball. That’ll play. Because I was curious how pitchers that performed similarly as McWilliams did in their respective futures, I ran some data.
So, that’s kind of impressive. That’s an average of just 8 kids per seasons since ’09 that are McWilliams’ age that are able to log 100 innings in the Southern League (AA). The original list of 80 names was littered with impressive names. Patrick Corbin, Chris Archer, Kodi Medeiros, Brad Keller, Jorge Lopez, Kyle Wright, Edwin Diaz, Nathan Eovaldi, and Michael Kopech just to name a few.
Speaking of Brad Keller, his AA numbers actually compares pretty favorably to the results that McWilliams had in AA in 2018. Keller is Player A in the tweet above, and McWilliams is Player B. As you can see, McWilliams has a pretty significant edge on Keller in the K/BB department, and in inducing swings and misses (SwStr%). Keller did a better job of limiting HR and inducing ground balls, but part of that can be attributed to the fact that McWilliams is 6′ 7″ and has a different pitching style.
When comparing McWilliams to the entire list of 80 pitchers aged 21-22 to log 100+ IP in the Southern League since ’09, here is how he ranked in a few key metrics:
- 13th in E-F (ERA – FIP, suggests that he pitched better than his ERA would suggest)
- 10th in SwStr% (this is impressive, and important)
- 10th in BABIP (this is a good thing, suggests he may have been a bit unlucky in his time at AA)
- 12th in WHIP
So, a couple of things here. McWilliams does a great job of missing bats. He’s in the top 10 among his peers in SwStr% on a list that is full of guys that have had big league success. He’s always going to be something of a fly ball pitcher, which, again, is something of a product of being 6′ 7″. He should be helped by Kauffman Stadium and the Royals defensive outfield, however, and could actually see some Brad Keller like success this season in the big leagues.
I crunched the numbers a bit and tried to narrow down a smaller list of players that had similar peripheral stats as McWilliams. This was something of a challenge. McWilliams has some really odd splits. His HR/9, ERA, and FIP were all near the bottom of the pack. His SwStr%, K-BB%, and E-F (the more important stats) were all near the top. No one else was this split. Most were either toward the top or toward the bottom in both groups of stats. With that being said, here’s what I came up with for the most similar seasons to McWilliams:
- Kyle Wright (former top 30 prospect in baseball)
- Randall Delgado (okay reliever, 3.1 career fWAR)
- Brandon Maurer (dear God)
- Fernando Romero (graduated from FanGraphs top 100 this year, highly regarded pitching prospect)
So, when examining the things that McWilliams does well, he’s right up there with a couple tippy top prospects in baseball. Brandon Maurer (as much as you don’t want to hear his name) has some of the very best “stuff” in Major League Baseball. While we’ll pray that McWilliams finds more success, that’s really not a bad guy to be compared to. And if McWilliams only ever becomes Randall Delgado, he’ll have an 8 year MLB career out of the bullpen. Not bad for a Rule 5 kid.
So there ya go, Royals fans. The one disadvantage that McWilliams will have compared to those other guys is that he won’t get the opportunity to have extra seasoning at the AAA level. He’ll be thrust directly into the big league bullpen in Kansas City, where I’m sure the Royals have very Brad Keller like plans for him. Learn to attack hitters in the bullpen, dominate, move to the starting rotation. The Royals got a good one here.