Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Ryan Williams has agreed to pen a first-person diary for ESPN.com, just as then-rookies Kyle Hendricks and C.J. Edwards did the past two springs. Williams will provide frequent entries detailing his experiences both on and off the field in his first big league camp.
Williams, 24, has had tremendous success in the minors since he was drafted in the 10th round in 2014 out of East Carolina. He went 14-3 with a 2.16 ERA in Class A and Double-A the past season. This year, the righty is slated for Triple-A Iowa, and he could very well become the first pitcher drafted by the current front office to throw a pitch for the Cubs in the big leagues.
MESA, Ariz. -- I’ve been here since Jan. 3, but so many players came in early, it was pretty much like spring training started two or three weeks ago. That was nice for me -- getting to know people from the outset, building some relationships and stuff like that. And it was nice to have a bridge with other people, such as Pierce Johnson, who had been in big league camp before. It was easy to get comfortable.
I found out I was going to big league camp about a week and a half before the announcement was made. They had made the original announcement with the first wave of people being invited to camp, then I got a call from Jason McLeod about six or seven days later to tell me that I was added. That was just an awesome thing to find out. I was getting ready to grill with a teammate and got that call, then I got a call from Chris Bosio telling me which group I was going to throw in, and he said it was the Lester/Lackey group, which just being in their company, I was looking forward to that from day one.
For where I was, it doesn’t get any better than to get those calls, especially with the Cubs, with the way this team is right now. I thought, ‘Don’t screw this up,' and I just hit the jackpot with some of the best people to learn from because they’ve seen and done it all in this game. Their résumés speak for themselves.
Now we start throwing as a group, and seeing Lester and Lackey work with each other, it’s a spectacle. Seeing how much they love the game and how much work they put toward it is something I just love being around. It’s not like in the middle of a drill they give a grand lesson -- it’s just watching how they go about every single thing with detail. They take pride in doing everything the best they can. They do it with such ease.
Already in my first bullpen, Chris Bosio helped with my changeup -- just a slight change. It took off for me after that. It was quick. He saw me throw one or two and immediately made a small switch, and I’ve liked it so far. It was a landing-foot thing. It has already helped.
Away from the park, I got to go golfing with Jason Hammel, Travis Wood, Miguel Montero and Kyle Schwarber. I’ve gone a couple of times. Riding in a cart with Montero was awesome. Talking baseball and what to expect -- they’ve been great. He told me not to try to do too much. Just enjoy it. He gave me brief lessons like that. Just go be yourself.
Now we’ll get to face our own hitters coming up. I can’t wait for that -- facing some of the best hitters in the world. I’m looking forward to it. Some of those guys' swings, man, it’s going to be fun. It will be a challenge.