Will Bednar, RHP
BATS: R / THROWS: R
ACQUIRED: Drafted 2021, 1st Round
LAST LEVEL: Low-A
GiantFutures 2023 Ranks: #16 Overall, #6 Starting Pitcher
2022 Performance: Will Bednar had an auspicious start to a difficult season in 2022, as he came out of the gate and hit five batters in his first game of the year. That ended up being the start to a year he spent struggling with a back strain before it finally ended in mid-June. Bednar didn’t pitch again in the regular season after June 12th, although he did return for the Arizona Fall League, but made only two starts in the AFL before being shut down again.
Bednar finished the season with a middling 4.19 ERA, having collected 51 strikeouts to 22 walks in 43.0 innings, plus 12 total hit batters. While Bednar limited hitters to just a .167 batting average, his control really struggled as he walked batters at a 4.6 BB/9 rate.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Bednar’s fastball in 2022 had dropped a few ticks from his college days, going from mid-90’s to low-90’s. It’s unclear about whether this drop is from the back strain he spent all season dealing with or not, so there’s hope he can bring the velocity back. It meant his fastball went from above-average to fringy. He does still have a slider with potential thanks to a high spin rate and some good motion. He also has a below-average changeup that has a lot of room for improvement.
Of course, the other topic for Bednar that’s been a big change from his college days to his pro days is his control. And again, it’s hard to tell if the problem has come from from the back strain or not. And that health, and how it’s affected him, will have everything to do with his future value.
2023 Outlook: It’s likely Bednar will head back to San Jose, with a lot on the to-do list. The biggest thing will be for Bednar to stay healthy, and see if the other tools he had in college come back.
Future Profile: The Will Bednar that was in Mississippi State and was a College World Series MVP looked like a pitcher with the potential to be a mid-rotation starter. But the 2022 Will Bednar does not. If Bednar does not regain his velocity, there’s a chance he might take his slider to a bullpen role, but even then, his velocity and control returning will be key.