Counting down from 30, the Jays Journal has your top 30 Blue Jays prospects this year, including who we’ve ranked at #11, Kendall Williams.
Name: Kendall Williams
Position: Pitcher Age: 19
Height: 6’6 Weight: 205 lbs
Acquired: Drafted in 2019, 2nd round #52 overall
Born in Olive Branch, Mississippi, Kendall Williams spent his later high school years at the prestigious IMG Academy out of Bradenton, Florida. Attending this school for his sophomore, junior, and senior years did wonders for his draft stock, as he would appear in 28 games and would finish high school with an impressive 1.54 ERA and 152 strikeouts over 114 innings pitched.
Williams would end up committing to play for Vanderbilt University, but would also be selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2nd round of the 2019 amateur draft during his senior year. The Blue Jays would be successful in their gamble to sway Williams from going to college, signing him above the allotted slot bonus value, taking home a cool $1.55 million with a trip down to join the Rookie League Gulf Coast Blue Jays.
In his first professional season, Williams would see limited action with the Gulf Coast Blue Jays due to his work through the senior year of high school, appearing in only six games and 16.0 innings for the Jays. He would start five of those games but would pitch to an incredible 1.13 ERA while striking out 19 and a 0.813 WHIP. The only real blemish with Williams’s first season was his elevated walk rate, with his seven free passes eclipsing the six hits he gave up all season.
According to Baseball Savant, Williams has a fastball that sits at 91-92 MPH and can reach 94 MPH over the course of the game. The one thing on Williams’s side is his size, with his large 6’6″ frame benefitting him as he throws on a more downward plane to home plate. Williams has a quick delivery to the plate, with a windup that does not involve too many moving parts when it comes to the leg kick and three-quarter arm slot. Considering he already possesses the large frame, over the next few years he should be able to bulk up a bit more and could see his fastball gain some extra MPH, which will bode well with the already downward trajectory due to his height.
Williams possesses the normal secondary off-speed pitches in a slider, curveball, and change-up. Scouts project that his curveball will be his best secondary pitch, mostly due to his size and three-quarter arm slot. After watching some highlights, his curveball and slider do have some solid movement and did produce some swing and misses from batters on both sides of the plate. His change-up is the one pitch he will need to work on the most out of the three off-speed pitches, as it’s reported that he did not throw the change-up much during his time at IMG Academy.
Kendall Williams is a very intriguing prospect given his size, age, and experience. He does have the large and lanky frame that can really benefit him in terms of throwing on the mound, but can also be considered a ‘work in progress’ as he still has to figure out how to move with his body to gain command and consistency when starting games.
He does have a ton of potential to become a big-league starter, but like all high school pitchers, he does come with some risk in terms of transitioning high school success against professional hitters.
Nevertheless, given that he just finished high school, Williams still has a few years of development left in the minor league system, and a trip down to the Rookie Leagues next year seems par for the course to begin the 2020 season, with the potential to see some time in Vancouver with the Canadians as the season winds down.
Williams is a pretty exciting prospect to have in the Blue Jays farm system and could be a legitimate rotation contender in a few year’s time. He has the size and frame to be a powerful force on the mound, and could be someone Blue Jays fans will be chomping at the bit for when the 2023 season rolls around.