Jimmy Williams (minors05)
Jimmy Williams (Slim)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 7", Weight 232 lb.
- High School Choctaw County High School
Jimmy Williams pitched for nine seasons in AAA without making the major leagues.
The Los Angeles Dodgers took Williams in the 10th round of the 1984 amateur draft. He bypassed the University of Alabama to sign for $28,000 and split 1984 between the Great Falls Dodgers (0-1, 14 R in 11 IP, 16 BB) and GCL Dodgers (4 UER, 4 BB in 3 IP), not looking like a guy who would still be pitching professionally 19 years later. In 1985, the lefty went 4-4 with a 3.78 ERA for the GCL Dodgers, though he continued to have control issues, walking 55 in 66 2/3 innings. He led the Gulf Coast League in both walks and balks (4). He ended his time in the LA chain with the '86 Vero Beach Dodgers, going 1-1 with a 4.35 ERA and issuing 66 walks in 60 innings.
Williams spent the next four seasons in the Minnesota Twins system. With the 1987 Visalia Oaks, he showed very good progress, going 7-4 with a 2.22 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 85 innings, though he still walked 62. Had he qualified, he would have been third in the California League in ERA. Back with Visalia in 1988, now as a reliever, he was 3-4 with 12 saves and a 3.71 ERA, striking out 55 in 51 innings while cutting his walks to 33. The tall hurler appeared in 59 games in 1989, 43 for the Orlando Twins (6-4, 14 Sv, 3.04, 62 K in 53 1/3 IP) and 16 for the Portland Beavers (3-2, 3 Sv, 4.18, 18 BB in 23 2/3 IP). He was 5th in the Southern League in saves. In 1990, he spent a full year in AAA, going 4-6 with 3 saves and a 5.04 ERA for Portland over 51 outings. He walked 74 in 84 innings.
Seven MLB organizations and Italy in an eight-year period
The Twins traded Williams to the San Francisco Giants with Johnny Ard to acquire Steve Bedrosian. He was 7-9 with a 5.96 ERA for the 1991 Phoenix Firebirds, walking 106 in 160 innings. He led the 1991 Pacific Coast League in walks, starts (28), runs allowed (120) and earned runs allowed (106). Leaving for the US, he pitched for Rimini in Italy in 1992, but only lasted four games and was unimpressive at 2-1, 6.84 with an opponent batting line of .316/.395/.458.
The Chicago Cubs still were interested enough to sign Williams for 1993. He pitched for the Orlando Cubs (5-5, 2.48, only 38 walks in 90 2/3 IP) and Iowa Cubs (5-3, 3.46), looking his sharpest in some time. In 1994, he was in the Montréal Expos organization. That year, he appeared for the Harrisburg Senators (1 UER in 4 IP) and Ottawa Lynx (9-2, Sv, 4.53). He tied Reid Cornelius for the most wins on that AAA club.
In 1995, he was in both the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles systems. He went 12-6 with two saves and a 3.48 ERA between the Norfolk Tides and Rochester Red Wings, perhaps his best year in AAA. The veteran led the 1995 International League with 65 walks but also was 8th in ERA, between Jim Deshaies and Blaise Ilsley. During 1996, he was with the Cleveland Indians' Buffalo Bisons team and went 12-3 with a 4.04 ERA. He tied Rick Helling for second in the 1996 American Association in wins, one shy of Scott Ruffcorn. The former wild man walked only 45. After being out of Organized Baseball in 1997 (BR Minors lists him as being in Japan, though he did not play in Nippon Pro Baseball; he could have played semipro or in the Japanese minors), Williams' wanderings continued into 1998, when he had his last time with a MLB system. He pitched that year for both Buffalo (0-5, 7.42, 38 H in 26 2/3 IP) and the Florida Marlins' Charlotte Knights (4-5, 5.09).
Independent leagues and Mexico
In 1999, Williams moved to the independent leagues with the Atlantic City Surf. He went 13-4 with a 4.55 ERA. He led the Atlantic League in strikeouts (124) and tied Alan Sontag for second in wins, one shy of Scott Conner. The Alabama native was not as good in a repeat engagement with the Surf, at 5-9, 6.14 in 2000. He moved to the Camden Riversharks for 2001 and moved to the bullpen, where he made a decent closer (1-8, 23 Sv, 3.09). He tied Mike Guilfoyle for the league lead in saves. He then turned in a superb 2002 for Camden, going 5-1 with 28 saves and a miniscule 0.56 ERA (though he allowed 10 runs to his 3 earned runs, still good for a 1.88 RA). He allowed only 10 walks in 48 innings, no resemblance to the hurler he was 18 years prior. He was second in the circuit in saves, two behind Craig Mattson, but was named the league's All-Star relief pitcher. He wrapped up his career with the 2003 Cafeteros de Cordoba, going 0-1 with 3 saves and a 13.50 ERA in 4 games.
Overall, Williams was 106-87 with 90 saves and a 4.21 ERA in 551 minor league games (184 starts). He walked 881 in 1,558 innings. Despite a 56-42 record in AAA, he never moved beyond that level.