Deep League Sleeper: Sam McWilliams: Did The Mets Find A Diamond In The Rough?

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The Mets need help in their rotation, though the addition of Sam McWilliams isn’t going to grab much attention. That said, having signed him to a Major League deal the potential is there for him to make an impact in 2020 (it’s clear the Mets see him as a potentially useful option). The question is, can he?

McWilliams was part of Tampa Bay’s 60-man player pool in 2020, though he never got called to the Majors. In 2019 he split time between Double and Triple-A, though he struggled after his promotion:

  • Double-A – 2.05 ERA over 87.2 IP
  • Triple-A – 8.18 ERA over 44.0 IP

A lot of his issues were luck based, with a .442 BABIP and 59.9% strand rate. Overall he did show enough of the skills we look for to at least catch our attention:

  • Strikeouts – 7.45 K/9 (courtesy of an 11.9% SwStr%)
  • Control – 3.21 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 44.6%

That said this scouting report, courtesy of Baseball America, makes you wonder if a shift to the bullpen could be in his future:

“At his best, his 91-95 mph plus fastball and slider can be a devastating one-two pairing as his slider will flash above-average to plus at its best. But he mixes sharp sliders with some spinners that don’t do a lot. And while he can elevate the fastball for swings and misses out of the zone, he’s not nearly as consistent with his fastball location when he tries to locate to his armside. His changeup is still a fringy pitch, but he continues to work on it to make it a viable third offering.”

With seemingly two pitches the shift would make sense, especially if the 6’7″ righty could also dial up his fastball a few more ticks in short stints. It’ll be interesting to watch, since the Mets do need depth in their rotation, but could they have found a diamond in the rough for the bullpen?

Time will tell, though it’s clear that the Mets thought enough of him to use up a 40-man roster spot to bring him in. Obviously he’d have little value as a reliever, since he’s not going to be closing, but just how high of a level starter could he be?

He’s a name to file away, just in case, but not get excited about.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball America

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