Ryan Williamson was drafted by the Texas Rangers out of Cranford High School in New Jersey, where he won three state titles in baseball and another in football. Though he was a 28th round pick, the Rangers threw 10th round money at Williamson to try to lure him away from his NC State commitment. While he had an up and down career that ended with injury, Williamson's decision to pitch with the Pack ultimately worked out, as he was drafted in the 15th round by the Washington Nationals this spring and elected this time to sign, ending his collegiate career.
Williamson won his only decision during his freshman campaign and posted a promising 3.05 ERA in 11 appearances. With Carlos Rodon gone and on the fast track to MLB after the 2014 draft, Williamson had an opportunity to assume a role in the rotation his sophomore year but posted an ugly 5.17 ERA and a 4-4 mark. Despite flashing dominance to the tune of 47 strikeouts in just 38.1 innings, the lefty allowed opponents to hit .321 off of him and served up four gopher balls, respectively the worst average against and the second worst HR/9 rate of anyone on the staff.
After the struggles of his sophomore year, the 6-3, 230-pounder was at best fourth in the pecking order behind freshman All-American Brian Brown, Joe O'Donnell, and Cory Wilder for starts at the beginning of 2016. But when he did get his chance, Williamson and his low 90s fastball and wipeout slider took advantage; the Pack won seven of his first eight starts with Williamson getting the "W" in six of those. By late season he was the team's ace and finished tied with Brown for the team lead in wins (seven) while leading the club's starters in ERA (2.69) by a wide margin.
Unfortunately Williamson was hurt during arguably the best start of his career, a 7.2-inning performance at Clemson on May 8th that saw him allow Seth Beer and crew just one unearned run. With Tommy John surgery looming, he gutted out three more starts but was ineffective save for a five-K, 3.1-inning performance against rival North Carolina in a 10-1 Pack win that effectively knocked the Heels from both ACC and NCAA tournament play.
Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure for Williamson in Florida a little over a week ago. If Williamson, like most of Andrews's patients, becomes a successful TJS survivor, he should be on the mound in the Nats' system this time next year, if not a little sooner. Williamson was likely gone regardless of the injury, but needing the surgery surely sealed the deal. Not only did it give him access to a world-class surgeon and MLB-level oversight of his rehab, but also the recovery road is so long that Williamson would've likely missed his entire senior season anyway.
Baseball America and MLB's official site (or any of the other sites I researched) do not list Williamson's bonus money, but hopefully, despite injury, he recouped dollars on par with what he would've had from the Rangers three years earlier. Judging from his twitter feed, he seems to like his teammates and will genuinely miss donning the Wolfpack red, so hopefully he has no regrets. The Wolfpack will certainly miss him, as there's no way the team hosts a regional this year without his contributions.
Williamson joins Andrew Knizner, who is tearing up the Appalachian League, and Will Gilbert as signees from the 2016 draft class. Preston Palmeiro and Cody Beckman remain unsigned and must be inked by the July 15th if they hope to begin their pro careers this summer. Beckman has made two strong starts for the Sanford River Rats in the Florida Collegiate Summer League but hasn't appeared since June 23rd; the fact that he's playing in a summer league would seem to indicate he is not going to sign...but having not pitched in 10 days might also mean he's close to picking up the pen (or worse yet, injured).