Part of the collection of prospects the Phillies obtained last season in the trade that sent Cole Hamels to Texas, slugging outfielder Nick Williams is as promising as any of the very talented young players the team has in their developmental ranks.
A second round pick of the Rangers out of Ball High School (TX) in 2012, Williams quickly signed and debuted as a pro. In the rookie level Arizona League, he posted a .313 batting average with a pair of home runs and 27 RBI while swiping 15 bases in 48 games.
The following year Williams played with Class A Hickory in the Sally League. In 95 games, he tallied a .293 average with 17 homers, 60 RBI and eight steals.
In 2014 Williams would open the season with Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, where he notched a .292 average with 13 home runs and 68 RBI in 94 games. That production earned him a promotion to the Double-A level to wrap up that season in August, where he posted a .226/.250/.290 slash line in 15 contests.
Last season, the lefty batting Williams returned to Double-A Frisco, batting .299 with 13 homers and 45 RBI through 97 games. He also represented the Rangers in the MLB All-Star Futures Game. By late July, the trade to the Phillies occurred and Williams transitioned to Double-A Reading, where he suffered a concussion as the result of a collision on defense in the field and missed some time. Despite the stint on the shelf, Williams posted a .320/.340/.536 slash line in 22 regular season games, helping the Fightins reach the Eastern League playoffs.
The hit tool is outstanding with Williams, who will be 22 years old for the entire 2016 minor league season. With super fast hands and a considerable amount of strength, the Texas native is able to drive any pitch that’s within his reach. Williams improved his plate discipline very much last year, striking out at a reduced rate (140 K’s in 486 PA’s in 2014/97 K’s in 515 PA’s in 2015). That is a trend that Williams and the Phils will hope can continue.
Williams hasn’t been a true threat on the bases in recent years, swiping 19 bags in 35 chances (54% success rate) in the last two seasons. While he’s not exactly a speedster, he is quick enough to steal a bit with reliability, but he’ll need to develop better abilities at reading opposing pitchers in order to make this a key part of his offensive game.
Primarily a left-fielder in the pro ranks, Williams has the quickness and range to play all three spots in the outfield. He has a solid arm that can keep runners conservative.
At six-foot-three and 195 pounds, Williams has a well-proportioned and athletic frame that could still pack on some muscle.
It’s possible Williams could spend some time back at Reading this year, but, based on his success, look for him to get some experience at the Triple-A level in 2016.
The exciting Williams certainly projects as an everyday big leaguer, possessing the tools to surpass the production that outfielders of recent Phillies playoff clubs enjoyed.
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