This year, Williams received Louisville Slugger Third-Team All-America honors and was named a semifinalist for the 2014 Gregg Olson Award, presented to college baseball's breakout player of the year.
The right-hander led the Pirates in six pitching categories and became the 10th in school history to claim the pitching triple crown (wins, ERA and strikeouts). He finished 11-3 with seven saves in 32 appearances, and he had a win or a save in 18 of the Pirates' 33 wins.
A native of Morgan Hill, Calif., Williams struck out 76 and walked 11, ranking 10th nationally in the strikeout-to-walk ratio. He posted a 1.81 ERA, giving up 20 earned runs over 99 2/3 innings.
But what sets him apart is that he was the 11th recipient of the honorary No. 23 jersey worn by the late ECU coach Keith LeClair. LeClair was an inspirational leader for his battle against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The illness forced him to step down in 2002, and his No. 23 is awarded each season to the player who displays LeClair's spirit.
"Ryan is very passionate about East Carolina," ECU coach Billy Godwin said in an interview before the season began. "He has a champion's heart with a great work ethic, whose selfless approach is contagious. He embodies all the characteristics associated with wearing the No. 23 jersey, and will wear it with great pride and help carry on its legacy within the ECU community."
Williams comes from a strong athletic background. His father, Arthur, was a quarterback at St. Cloud State and spent 15 years as a professional golfer.
The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at noon CT.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.