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NYPL notes: Williams gaining confidence

Cardinals No. 20 prospect working hard to become more consistent
July 15, 2016

Added motivation can be found in many different forms, and Cardinals No. 20 prospect Ronnie Williams is continuing to find that out at every turn in his young career.

From dealing with death to having to wait out the start of his season at extended spring training to finding a new friend in State College, the 20-year-old Miami native is working hard and showing vast improvement through consistency.

"A lot of stuff has happened in the offseason, people in my life have passed," Williams said. "I'm playing for a lot of people back home, so I go out and give it everything I've got. Another big thing that has taken me this season is [State College superfan] little Josiah Viera. Seeing him day in and day out, whenever I have a bad game, I just look at him.… I'm so appreciative of what I have that I can go out and compete every day."

As far as being held back at the Cardinals facilities in Florida for extended spring training, he said, "At first I was kind of upset that I was in extended, but that's normal. I went back to the hotel and said I'm going to take everything I can from here and get better and learn. That's what I did."

Williams feels he turned it all around at that point, working on making his delivery more repetitive while trying to perfect his release point.

In the process, he has gained complete confidence in his fastball and feels that his changeup is becoming a more consistent strike offering as well. Williams also says his curveball is "coming along" as he learns to control the speeds of that pitch in certain counts while going to a two-seam sinker to get him out of tougher situations.

"I think I can command my fastball pretty much in any part of the zone in any count," he said. "I'm still working on all of them to get better. You can never be good enough."

Those pitches have helped Williams compile a 3-1 record, 2.62 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 26 strikeouts in five starts.

More importantly, those pitches are allowing the young right-hander the opportunity to go deep into games, going seven or more innings in four straight starts to give him a league-high 34 1/3 frames.

"I go out and battle," Williams said. "That's all I think. I know my defense and my offense have my back. We have a great team and we're jelling. I love them like my brothers and I trust them, so it's easier to go out there and pitch."

As he continues to see more competition at this new level, Williams has seen opposing hitters adjust to him, so he knows he needs to continue his current approach.

Williams has worked hard on and off the field, gaining five pounds while hitting the weight room to work on strength and conditioning.

With motivation and a blossoming poise on the hill, he hopes to continue on the path he is on.

"I'm just trying to stay consistent and repeat what I've been doing day in and day out," Williams said. "I'm working hard.… I just feel more confident in myself."

In brief

New heights: Justin Dunn, the Mets' first-round selection last month, entered Thursday with four scoreless innings in relief over his first two appearances for Brooklyn. The 19th overall selection allowed two hits in his first outing against Batavia and two walks while earning his first professional win over Hudson Valley. Dunn, who tossed 65 2/3 innings for Boston College before joining the Cyclones, has struck out three while throwing 51 pitches.

Bullish bear: With 21 walks entering Thursday, West Virginia's Jordan George stands as the league leader in patience, earning free passes 21 percent of the time. He tallied the same number of walks a year ago at Rookie-level Bristol for a 16 percent walk rate. Through his first 23 games with the Black Bears, the 2015 35th-round selection had earned one more walk than he had hits and had a league-leading .440 on-base percentage after reaching base in all but two games this season.

Rumble in the valley: That loud noise coming from the Troy, New York area is the ValleyCats' bats doing heavy damage entering Thursday with league bests in all three slash line categories at .269/.360/.407. Tri-City has been especially prolific in extra-base hits, where it was able to advance beyond first base off the bat 76 times, including a league-leading 23 homers. The club also sat atop the leaderboards in hits (247), runs scored (142) and RBIs (131) and was second in the league in walks (102).

Craig Forde is a contributor to