Garrett Williams’ first start of the Arizona Fall League didn’t go as planned. The Giants prospect earned a win in the box score, but he only lasted two innings while walking three in the Scottsdale Scorpions’ victory over the Mesa Solar Sox.
In a game of adjustments though, Williams did just that in his next two starts.
“Just talking about his whole time out here so far, his first outing he had a rough one. And then the next two he's been outstanding,” former Giants reliever Aaron Fultz, who is Williams’ pitching coach in the AFL, said in a phone interview with NBC Sports Bay Area.
In his last two starts, Williams has shown the potential that has kept him on the Giants radar since drafting him in 2016, despite up and down results in the minors leagues. Williams has tossed four innings in each of his past two starts, striking out nine while allowing three hits and no runs over eight innings.
The lefty did walk three batters in his last outing, but he also struck out seven batters in four no-hit innings. Fultz says Williams is mixing his fastball and changeup well, and after a rough start, he’s found his rhythm.
“There's no question how good his stuff is, it's just a question of repeating it. He's been doing that really well the last two outings,” Fultz said. “The biggest thing I think is his tempo. Having that consistent tempo helps him repeat his delivery better.”
What Williams didn’t have this past season with Double-A Richmond is consistency. One year after going 6-5 with a 2.32 ERA between Augusta and San Jose, Williams struggled in his promotion to the Richmond Flying Squirrels. He moved to the bullpen at the end of June and finished the season 3-9 with a 6.06 ERA and 1.92 WHIP.
Williams totaled 15 starts and came out of the bullpen 18 times this season. The 24-year-old had a 6.10 ERA as a starter and 5.96 ERA as a reliever. Working with Fultz on his consistency in the AFL, Williams has had one role — starting games for the Scorpions.
And sticking to one spot is working. Williams is 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA in his three starts, and though he needs to continue working on his control, Fultz can see the confidence building in the young lefty.
“It appears his confidence has really boosted up and that makes everything a lot easier when you have that,” Fultz said. “I’m from a different organization, but I definitely think he has the potential and the ability to stay in the rotation as long as he commands the zone like he has been.”
The Giants need to find what works best for Williams. Under Fultz, he’s finding who he was in 2017, and whoever takes over in the front office can only hope his fall form follows him back to the desert in the spring of 2019.