The Toronto Blue Jays selected IMG Academy right-hander Kendall Williams in the second round as the 52nd overall pick in the 2019 MLB amateur draft
The Blue Jays selected another tall right-handed pitcher for their second selection in this year’s draft.
Kendall Williams, an 18-year-old from Mississippi, has been part of IMG Academy since 2017 and is committed to Vanderbilt University which means his signing is not certain.
Williams stands out with his size of 6-foot-6, 208-pounds, and has a five-pitch arsenal, something unusual for a prep pitcher. He throws the four-seamer, two-seamer, curveball, changeup, and slider. His fastball sits in the low 90’s while regularly touching 94mph, according to MLB.com’s scouting report.
MLB.com gave the following scouting grades to Williams: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50. According to MLB.com “Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools — 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.”
Jonathan Mayo, who covers the draft and the minors for MLB.com, said on MLB Network’s broadcast last night right after the announcement of Williams’ selection, that the 18-year-old will throw harder once he gets into professional baseball. Also, the longtime general manager of the Rockies, who now serves as an analyst for MLB Network, Dan O’Dowd, praised the Blue Jays’ second selection: “This is a great value pick for where we are in the draft.”
Williams is just 18 years old and he will need to polish his offspeed pitches as well as the changeup. It’s hard to give any type of predictions for such a young player but given his size and ability to throw five pitches at such an early stage in his career shows there’s some special upside in him to throw a big fastball and some nasty breaking balls in some years.
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Kendall Williams’ dilemma: Vanderbilt or the Blue Jays?
Going to Vanderbilt is certainly an opportunity for the young pitcher to improve his stock for a future draft. Some notable starters like David Price, Walker Buehler, Sonny Gray, and Mike Minor played for Vanderbilt before signing with a big league organization. However, and this is pure speculation, the Blue Jays must feel confident about their chances of signing Williams if they’ve made him their second pick in the draft. Considering the slot value for pick No. 52 is $1.4 million, the Jays will probably offer more in order to increase their chances of signing him.
In a Youtube video from IMG Academy, Kendall Williams talks about the draft and his expectations and feelings ahead of it. To the question of what will happen if he gets drafted, his answer does not clear any doubts surrounding his potential signing but he certainly seems open to signing: “It’s what my family and I think is best, nothing is really made up, we will see how it goes, see how everything plays out, but there’s definitely a possibility for both. I’m definitely hoping to do it [signing], I’m also open to going to college, I think I’m really mature and I can go either way, I’m ready to go.”
Some recent twitter activity from the 18-year-old is also encouraging for the Blue Jays. Williams has changed his bio to “| Toronto Blue Jays |”, and tweeted: “Beyond blessed to be given the opportunity to play for such a great organization. Ready to get to work!”
The reaction of his family, although it is absolutely normal and natural, was quite enthusiastic too.
There is a real possibility of the Blue Jays not being able to sign Kendall Williams but he has certainly shown willingness to do so and most importantly, motivation, enthusiasm, and thankfulness.
Clubs have until about August to sign their selections so Williams has some time to decide in what is, probably, the most important decision he’ll have taken in his sports career and life.