6/6 Cubs pick Williams in 10th round
When the Cubs are scouting players, they check not only the statistics but do research on his make up and character. East Carolina’s Ryan Williams passed all the tests. The Cubs picked Williams in the 10th round of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday. He’s the other East Carolina pitcher — highly touted Jeff Hoffman was taken ninth overall by the Blue Jays. But Williams was a standout for the Pirates as well.
This year, Williams received Louisville Slugger Third-Team All-America honors and was named a semi-finalist for the 2014 Gregg Olson Award, presented to college baseball’s breakout player of the year.
The right-hander led the Pirates in six pitching categories and became the 10th in school history to claim the pitching triple crown (wins, ERA and strikeouts). He finished 11-3 with seven saves in 32 appearances, and had a win or a save in 18 of the Pirates’ 33 wins.
A native of Morgan Hill, Calif., Williams struck out 76 and walked 11, ranking 10th nationally in the strikeout-to-walk ratio. He posted a 1.81 ERA, giving up 20 earned runs over 99 2/3 innings.
But what sets him apart is that he was the 11th recipient of the honorary No. 23 jersey worn by the late ECU coach Keith LeClair. LeClair was an inspirational leader for his battle against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The illness forced him to step down in 2002, and his No. 23 is awarded each season to the player who displays LeClair’s spirit.
“Ryan is very passionate about East Carolina,” ECU coach Billy Godwin said in an interview before the season began. “He has a champions heart with a great work ethic, whose selfless approach is contagious. He embodies all the characteristics associated with wearing the No. 23 jersey, and will wear it with great pride and help carry on its legacy within the ECU community.”
— Carrie Muskat