The first two seasons as a professional for Jonathan Willems were a bit of a struggle in terms of performance. He hit .228 as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League. In 2017 he came stateside and hit .234 for the Arizona League Reds. But the Reds had faith in the teenager from Curacao and sent the then 19-year-old to Greeneville to begin his 2018 season in June for the new affiliate in the Appalachian League.

That faith in Jonathan Willems paid off early in the 2018 season. With the season not beginning until late in June there were only nine games during the month. Willems had multiple hits in six of those games, walking three times and adding three extra-base hits. Over his 43 plate appearances he hit .342/.395/.474 while playing both second and third base.

The hot hitting carried over into July. In the first four games of the month he racked up seven more hits, including four extra-base hits. After back-to-back games of going 0-4 on the 7th and 8th, he took had his biggest game of the season. On July 10th he went 4-5 while hitting for the cycle against Kingsport. Things slowed down the rest of the month. In the remaining 16 games he had 15 hits in 65 at-bats – though eight of his hits were of the extra-base variety. But he also didn’t draw a walk and racked up 18 strikeouts. In 100 plate appearances during the month he hit .271/.300/.521.

August got out to a nice start. In the first seven games Jonathan Willems hit .344 with four extra-base hits – giving him a slugging percentage of .625 in that stretch. But he didn’t walk and had seven strikeouts. Over his next 10 games he would go into a deep slump, going 2-27 (.074). He closed out the final six games with the Greeneville Reds he went 5-24 with two home runs. With that season over the Reds sent him to Billings to join the Mustangs for the final week of the season. While there he continued to slump, going just 4-19 (.211). After the strong start to the final five weeks, he finished with a .216/.252/.373 line with four walks and 26 strikeouts in 108 trips to the plate.

For all 2018 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Jonathan Willems Spray Chart

Jonathan Willems Scouting Report

Hitting | He can and does use the entire field. And he’s capable of hitting the ball hard from gap-to-gap. The hit tool could be an average big league tool in the future.

Power | Willems is listed at just 5′ 11″ and 180 lbs, but he’s got some strength, and his bat is quick. He’s also got some barrel awareness. He’s got average, perhaps slightly above-average power potential.

Speed | He’s an average runner.

Defense | He has played around the infield in his professional career, with a majority of it coming at second base. If he’s going to stay on the dirt, that’s the position it’ll be at. Right now he’s a well below-average defender, and his hands aren’t great. Most scouts believe he’s likely to slide to the outfield in the future.

Arm | He’s got a slightly below-average arm.

When you watch Jonathan Willems hit, you can see a real good athlete. His actions are quick, but loose. The upside for Willems is on the offensive side of the ball. His bat could play well if he full develops. There’s power and hit in there. Where he needs to keep improving is pitch recognition and his aggressive approach. Last year he improved his strikeout rate despite the jump up in competition, but it’s still at a rate that could use some improvement. His walk rate, always has been low, and it remained very low. Improving his strikeout-to-walk ratio will be something to watch from him in the future. He can generally handle pitches in the zone, but he expands often and that’s where he will have issues.

Defensively things are a bit up in the air. He’s struggled on the infield, whether that’s been at third base or second base. His arm probably doesn’t play every day at third in the long run. At second base it plays fine, but his hands and actions leave many scouts thinking it’s a long shot that he can remain there. Most point to left field as the place he will ultimately wind up where his speed and arm would profile the best. To this point in his career, though, he’s never played in the outfield.

There’s some high risk/high reward with Jonathan Willems. At one game I was at this season a scout called him the best prospect in the Appalachian League. This was the early in the year, but there was a 2018 first round draft pick on the field that same day, too. That’s the kind of reward you’re looking at – at least one professional scout thought he was a better prospect than a guy taken in the first round of the draft just a few weeks earlier. At the same time, he’s going to have to improve his pitch recognition and plate approach or he’s going to really struggle to hit against pitchers that can throw offspeed pitches where they want to. He’ll be 20-years-old next season, so there’s plenty of time to work on that. But it’s an area that must improve.

Longest Home Run of the Year

399 Feet on July 23rd.

Interesting Stat on Jonathan Willems

He didn’t face pitchers younger than he was often, but in the 25 plate appearances that he did that during 2018, he hit .478/.520/.696 against them.


8 Responses

  1. Wes

    Ever see the story where adam Jones formally of the Orioles got held up at the border bc they thought he was Pac-Man Jones ? Kinda funny and worth noting since both may pass through cincy in their careers

  2. MK

    Interesting. Batting average against pitchers younger than him? I sometimes wonder who is breaking down these statistics, especially for a rookie league. And, just what is the value of this one.

    From the video seems like Willems really loads up on that back leg. Might create a high strike out and low walk rate.

      • MK

        What possible value does that stat have? Manager needs to start him only when a pitcher is younger than him?

      • Gaffer

        It might have something to do with comparing to level of competitors? Maybe?

        If you are not into stats why would you read this site?

      • MK

        I am into stats but those that have actual value. I understand Doug added the information because it was a little different. My question TO HIM was why would anyone possibly care about this statistic.