clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Gavin Williams’ 100-mph fastball is headed to the Majors

Tanner Bibee and Logan Allen have already shined as rookies this year, but the latest Cleveland Guardians pitching prospect may be the best of the bunch.

Gavin Williams of the Cleveland Guardians throws a pitch during a minor league spring training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch on March 24, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. Photo by David Durochik/Diamond Images via Getty Images

In an MLB season chock full of scintillating starting pitching debuts — from Bobby Miller to Bryce Miller to Mason Miller to lots of other guys not named Miller — the Cleveland Guardians have been, unsurprisingly, at the forefront. Long one of baseball’s most reliable sources of homegrown pitching talent (producing guys like Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie and on and on), early injuries to McKenzie and Aaron Civale forced the team to go back to the well, throwing top-100 prospects Tanner Bibee and Logan Allen unexpectedly into the deep end.

And the duo have more than held their own, pitching to a 4.05 and 3.95 ERA, respectively, while helping Cleveland keep its nascent AL Central hopes alive. But for as promising as Bibee and Allen are, they’ve got nothing on the guy who’s been biding his time in Triple-A: hard-throwing righty Gavin Williams.

MLB Pipeline’s No. 16 overall prospect, Williams was nipping at Allen and Bibee’s heels as they made their way through the Minors. But McKenzie and Civale’s recent returns from the IL blocked him from getting the call to the big club. With McKenzie back on the shelf with elbow discomfort, though, the Guardians suddenly found themselves in need of another starter. We were willing to bet that that starter would be Williams, and sure enough, the 23-year-old will reportedly be filling that slot on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics.

So just who is Williams, and why should baseball fans and fantasy managers care whether he gets the call?

Gavin Williams fantasy impact

We’ve been banging the drum about Williams for months now, but if you’re new to the bandwagon, welcome aboard. Here’s the first thing you need to know. He throws really, really hard.

That’s fellow top prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand that Williams is blowing away with a 101.1-mph fastball in the clip above, and the righty will regularly sit 98-99 with the pitch. The heater remains the party piece, but if you’re wondering how the 23-year-old went from undrafted as a junior at East Carolina in 2020 to AAC Pitcher of the Year and 23rd overall pick a year later to consensus top prospect, the answer is the development of both a sharp, tight slider and a big 12-6 curve.

Williams struggled for years to spin the ball, relying on pure gas to try and get by. But, as they’ve so often done, the Guardians managed to unlock something once he got to pro ball, and his stock has taken off since. After posting a 1.96 ERA and 149 Ks over 115 innings across High-A and Double-A last season, Williams has been just as good so far in 2023, with a 3.13 ERA and 12 K/9 in nine starts at Triple-A Columbus. His command of those secondaries can come and go — and he’s yet to get a great feel for his changeup, which could leave him vulnerable to left-handed hitters — but this is still some of the loudest stuff in the Minors, and his strikeout upside makes him a must-add in just about every fantasy league. A cushy first matchup against the A’s miserable offense certainly doesn’t hurt.