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Rookie Taylor Williams auditions in Milwaukee Brewers bullpen

Tommy John survivor looks for his niche in the majors

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

On September 1st the Milwaukee Brewers promoted right-handed pitcher Taylor Williams to the major league roster. He’s since pitched in three games, logging 2.2 innings with two hits and one run allowed, fanning one. Williams was relatively anonymous pre-season but he has a very good arm and could be a useful bullpen asset going forward. Here’s a quick look.

Williams was drafted in the fourth round in 2013 from Kent State University. His 2014 season was quite good (2.72, 137/28 K/BB in 132 innings in Low-A and High-A) but he hurt his elbow during spring training in 2015. He tried to work through it with rehab work and plasma injections but the pain persisted and he eventually had Tommy John surgery. The elbow injury cost Williams all of the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

No one knew quite what to expect this year. The Brewers handled him carefully with Double-A Biloxi, giving him 14 starts but never letting him pitch more than 3.2 innings due to a strict pitch count.

He moved to the bullpen full-time at the end of July and pitched extremely well, posting a 16/2 K/BB with a 2.08 ERA in his last 13 innings. Overall he posted a 3.09 ERA in 47 innings this year for Biloxi with a 57/21 K/BB. This was enough to bring him to the majors for September.

Born July 21st 1991, Williams isn’t a big guy, standing 5-11, 195, but he has a very good arm with a 95-97 MPH fastball. He worked in the 90-95 range as a starter before Tommy John but seems to have a bit more zip in relief. His breaking ball is an above-average slider. He also has a workable change-up although in the bullpen he relies mainly on the harder stuff. His control was wobbly early in 2017 but it sharpened up as he worked two years of injury rust off.

Assuming his health holds up, Williams should be an effective long and middle reliever.