Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Mets Sign Sam McWilliams

Earlier today the Mets signed Sam McWilliams to a major league contract worth 750,000 dollars. A major league deal is unusual for a player who has never played in the major leagues, and McWilliams is earning the highest salary of any player without major league experience not coming from Asia, per Jon Heyman. According to Tim Healey of Newsday, McWilliams had offers from 15 different teams and multiple major league offers. Since there was no minor league season the most recent footage and stats I can evaluate him by is from 2019 but there have been some reports from the Rays camp.

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McWilliams is a 25-year-old right-hander, who is 6,7 and 230 pounds. In 2019, Williams threw 131.2 innings to a 4.10 ERA and a 4.17 FIP in AA and AAA for the Tampa Bay Rays. In 6 seasons in the minor leagues, McWilliams has thrown 535 innings to a 3.85 ERA and a 3.81 FIP. McWilliams has bounced around in his minor league career as he was traded to the Diamondbacks for Jeremy Hellickson, then traded to the Rays, and claimed by the Royals in the Rule 5 draft before returning to the Rays. 

In his minor league career, 26.3% of his flyballs have been in the infield which is very good and suggests that he should run a low BABIP in the majors. However, his career minor league BABIP is .318. In his minor league career, he has an 11.4% swinging-strike rate and an 11.9% swinging-strike rate in 2019 which is pretty good and carried by his slider. 

When McWilliams moved to the bullpen late in 2019 his fastball velocity jumped up and he was sitting 95-96 with his four-seamer. According to Michael Mayer at Metsmerized, McWilliams was sitting at 96-98 at camp at hit 99. The pitch has moderate rise and arm side run but it is only effective if he can command it. As of 2019, McWilliam’s fastball command was poor and the pitch wasn’t as effective as it could be as a result of that. McWilliam’s sinker is a very hittable pitch despite tunneling well with the four-seamer. It might look good on an overlay GIF however hitters are not fooled and it probably won’t miss a lot of bats. 

McWilliam’s slider is his best pitch and when it is good it has tight and late break that can be devastating for hitters. The slider is his go-to pitch with two strikes and rightly so as it often gets hitters to whiff on it in the dirt. Sometimes the slider gets a little loopier or he just leaves it up in the zone and it gets hit.  Unless he has made significant headway in the past year he is going to primarily be a two-pitch reliever because his changeup isn’t a major league level pitch. If he makes the majors he will probably use it a little against lefties however it isn’t an effective pitch. It doesn’t have exceptional break or velocity difference and he can’t command it. His changeup isn’t that great a pitch to start and it is even worse when he leaves it up in the zone. 

As I mentioned in my review of just about every pitch he has, his command greatly hampers his effectiveness. Command is often a problem for tall pitchers like him and it isn’t helped by the lack of knee flexion in his delivery. He had an 8.1% BB% in 2019 and 6.9% BB% in his career however BB% isn’t what command means. Control is the ability to put the ball in the strike zone, but command is the ability to hit spots and McWilliams has struggled at hitting spots. He needs to be able to keep his fastball up in the zone and his slider and changeup down in the zone if he wants to access his full potential. I predict that he may have improved his command over the past year since he is in such high demand but I can’t change my grades based on an assumption.

Patrick Bowe

I am a Mets fan who takes an analytical approach to baseball and evaluating players. I prefer to focus on small details instead of broad generalizations.