10 TO WATCH IN 2003:

Jerome Williams: The 21-year-old pitcher has advanced in each of 4 years in the minor league system

'99 Waipahu grad climbs
from minors to S.F. camp

Baseball America cites Williams
as the Giants' top prospect

By Al Chase

Jerome Williams is on the verge of becoming the next baseball player with Hawaii ties to wear a major-league uniform.

Ten to watch in 2003
The Star-Bulletin is spotlighting 10 people who may have a big impact on Hawaii this year.

Drafted in 1999 by the San Francisco Giants as a supplemental-round pick (39th overall), the 6-foot-3 right-hander has steadily pitched his way up the team's minor-league ladder.

He was added to the Giants' 40-man roster on Nov. 20.

Named to the Howe Sportsdata All-Teen Team in 2000 and the SportsTicker All-Teen Team in 2001, Williams has been cited as San Francisco's top prospect the last two years by Baseball America.

In four minor-league seasons, the 1999 Waipahu graduate has a 23-25 win-loss record, but he was on the winning side until spending last summer with the Fresno Grizzlies, a team that finished last in the Southern Division of the Pacific Coast League's Pacific Conference.

Williams, 21, began the summer 0-5, then adjusted to the PCL hitters and went 6-6 the rest of the way. He struck out 130 and walked 50 in 160 2/3 innings, the most innings he pitched in one summer as a pro. His 3.59 earned run average was eighth best in the PCL.

Williams continued to impress Giants officials in the Arizona Fall League.

Lenn Sakata, his manager at Fresno and in the AFL, said Williams understands the commitment one has to accept to make it to the major leagues.

"He has the talent. Now he has to put out the competitive effort on the mound," he said at the end of the PCL season.

As a pitcher, Williams' four-season earned run average is 3.39 -- outstanding, considering he spent the 2001 season in the Texas League, notorious for hitter-friendly ballparks.

He has moved up one classification each year in the Giants' minor-league system. The top rung is "The Show." Williams will go to the Giants' major-league camp with the opportunity to take that last step up.

E-mail to City Desk


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