Brandon Williamson is going to get the start for the Cincinnati Reds in their spring training opener this Saturday against the Cleveland Guardians, first reported by Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The game will be on Bally Sports Ohio at 3:05pm ET if you have some time to sit down in front of your television. The game will also be available on the radio – with this broadcast being on 700 WLW. You can see the entire spring training television and radio schedule here.
Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote about Reds prospect Brandon Williamson this weekend, covering his new routine as well as some of what he is looking to improve upon after some struggles in 2022 in the minor leagues. One of the things that could help Williamson is the addition of a cut fastball.
When Cincinnati traded for Brandon Williamson last spring in the deal that sent Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker to the Seattle Mariners he was the top prospect in that deal and considered a Top 100 prospect in baseball. The lefty had shown good control in his career to that point, and had four average to better offerings with his fastball, curveball, change up, and slider. But in the 2022 season his stuff took a step backwards and his velocity was inconsistent from start to start. All told he walked 77 batters with 123 strikeouts in 122.2 innings while posting a 4.11 ERA in 27 starts between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville. That led to him dropping to #11 on the Cincinnati Reds prospect list.
Williamson, who turns 25 on April 2nd, picked up the cutter this offseason. It’s just going to give him another weapon to work with and to give hitters something else to think about in the box. But his fastball velocity is reportedly back up this spring, which is always a good thing to see.
If the lefty can return to form, throw strikes, and his velocity is back up, he could be a real candidate to make the rotation. He’s had experience in Triple-A, making 13 starts there – though the level of success was so-so at best – so the jump wouldn’t necessarily be a huge one for him. That’s one less start than Hunter Greene had in Louisville before he made the roster. It’s 10 more starts than Nick Lodolo had when he made the roster, too. Williamson will have to go out there and earn it, but unlike much of the other guys vying for a spot in the rotation, there’s real upside there for him if he can grab the job and run with it. With the Reds giving him the first start of the spring could this be their way of signaling that he is one of the favorites to pick up one of the spots?