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MLB Rookie Profile: Trevor Williams, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Although he didn’t win the fifth starter job, Pittsburgh Pirates rookie Trevor Williams is still worth tracking closely.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Pittsburgh Pirates Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing our series of profiles for all MLB rookies, we turn this morning to Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams. He lost the fifth starter battle to fellow rookie Tyler Glasnow, but Williams still came north with the team as a member of the bullpen. Let’s take a look at him.

Williams was originally drafted by the Miami Marlins in the second round in 2013 from Arizona State University. He was traded from the Marlins to the Pirates in October 2015 for pitching prospect Richard Mitchell, then pitched well for Triple-A Indianapolis in 2016. He struggled following promotion to the majors but was still accounted as one of Pittsburgh’s better prospects for 2017.

He ranked 18th on the Pirates Top 20 prospects for 2017 list with the following comment:

18) Trevor Williams, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, second round pick from Arizona State by Marlins in 2013, traded to Pirates in October 2015; posted 2.42 ERA in 115 innings in Triple-A with 78/30 K/BB, 1.39 GO/AO; hit hard in majors with 19 hits, 13 runs in 13 innings but will get more chances; sinker velocity in low-90s with peaks at 96, mixes in slider and change-up; not a strikeout guy but gets grounders, has a chance to be four/five starter or bullpener. ETA 2017.

Entering spring training as a rotation candidate, he pitched well in Florida with a 2.04 ERA in 17.2 innings with an excellent 18/2 K/BB. However, he lost the fifth starter job to Tyler Glasnow and will open the season in the bullpen, pitching long relief.

Williams lacks an overpowering pitch; even at his highest peak velocities his fastball is more of a sinking ground ball contact device than a whiff generator. His slider is workable but his change-up is just so-so, although his secondaries looked sharp this spring and could be responsible for the increase in his strikeout rate, even with sample size perils in mind.

He usually does a good job of throwing strikes and the sinker/slider combination could play up in the pen. Glasnow has more of a classic starter profile than Williams but Tyler’s control is weaker. Should Glasnow fail, Williams is a good backup option. Trevor had little left to prove in Triple-A so bringing him along in the pen as a long reliever and sixth starter was a logical decision.

The key to watch this year is his strikeout rate. If that remains as high as it did in spring training, Williams could be in the midst of a breakout. Keep track of him.