Nick Williams, once believed to be a future core piece for the Philadelphia Phillies, has been called up by the Chicago White Sox.
Tony La Russa’s team has been hit hard by injuries in the outfield early, and with Billy Hamilton the latest to head to the injured list, Williams will get another shot at the major league level.
Not only has Williams once again reached the major league level, but the left-handed hitting outfielder will start in left field and hit seventh in the team’s home opener Thursday against the Kansas City Royals. While Hamilton and Eloy Jiménez are both on the injured list, it’s mildly surprising to see Williams start over Andrew Vaughn, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.
The Phillies acquired Williams as part of the return in the July 2015 trade of Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers. That deal didn’t have the intended impact that the Phillies hoped for, and Williams is a big part of that.
Though he impressed in his first 83 games of his major league career, Williams never developed into the All-Star caliber outfielder that some believed he had the potential to be. Williams slashed .256/.324/.425 with 17 home runs, 50 RBIs and a .749 OPS in 2018, providing his best at-bats as a pinch hitter. However, after hitting .333 in 36 pinch-hit at-bats in 2018, Williams regressed to a .145 average off the bench in 55 at-bats in 2019, when he lost chances to start following the signings of Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen.
Williams didn’t play at the major league level at all in 2020, opening the season at the Phillies satellite squad and finishing the campaign in the same role for the Cincinnati Reds, who claimed him off of waivers in mid-August.
Though he’s still just 27, this could prove to be the final opportunity at the major league level for Williams.
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