What starting the Cactus League opener means for Reds prospect Brandon Williamson

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Brandon Williamson
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Brandon Williamson / Sam Wasson/GettyImages
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We now know that Brandon Williamson will start the Cincinnati Reds Cactus League opener on Friday afternoon in Goodyear, Arizona against the Cleveland Guardians. But does that really mean anything in the long run?

Williamson, who was acquired in the deal that sent Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez to the Seattle Mariners, split last season between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville.

The former second-round pick and college teammate of Nick Lodolo went 6-7 in 27 starts with a 4.11 ERA and 123 punch outs in 122.2 innings fo work.

What being named the Reds starter for the Cactus League opener means for Brandon Williamson.

A player's performance during Cactus League play can oftentimes be overanalyzed. However, with the Cincinnati Reds having an opening in the starting rotation, how Brandon Williamson performs this spring could be the difference between him making the Opening Day roster and beginning the season at Triple-A Louisville.

The top three spots in the Reds rotation have already been decided. If the trio of Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene, and Graham Ashcraft are healthy, they'll be atop the Reds rotation in 2023. But the fourth and fifth spots are somewhat up for grabs.

Luis Cessa likely has the inside track for the No. 4 spot behind last year's rookies. Cessa will be part of Team Mexico during the upcoming World Baseball Classic, so unless his absence from spring training inhibits his ability to ready himself for the upcoming season, fans should expect Cessa to have a seat at the table.

The final spot, however, is going to be a tossup between Williamson, Justin Dunn, Connor Overton, and Luke Weaver. Don't discount Chase Anderson in the battle for the final rotation spot either.

One would think that Brandon Williamson being announced as the Cincinnati Reds starter in the Cactus League opener sets the stage for the left-hander to prove himself this spring. If he can outperform the others, there's no reason to believe that Williamson would not break camp with the Reds.

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