Williams homers for first big league hit
Prospect hits two-run blast in series opener vs. O's
BALTIMORE -- Power was not part of the equation when the Yankees summoned Mason Williams to the big leagues for his Major League debut. He had shown good speed and extra-base-hit potential at the top two levels of the farm system, but Williams owned no homers in 235 Minor League plate appearances this year.
Williams changed that in the fourth inning of Friday's 11-3 loss, notching his first Major League hit and homer on the same swing. Williams got all of his two-run shot to right field off the Orioles' Ubaldo Jimenez, and the 23-year-old beamed as he crossed home plate.
"Pretty speechless," Williams said. "I thought I hit it pretty well. Honestly, it's my first home run of the year. I wish it would have come at a better time and that we'd won this game."
Once touted among the brightest outfield prospects in all of baseball, Williams rebuilt his stock with a good spring and carried it into the Minor League season, batting .318 with 14 doubles, 22 RBIs and 13 steals in 54 games this season to earn his first callup.
"I just took it all in today," Williams said. "I took it all in, and I embraced it. I worked hard for this. I worked hard to be here."
A fourth-round selection of the Yanks in the 2010 Draft out of Winter Garden (Fla.) High School, Williams is the son of former NFL wide receiver Derwin Williams.
After signing for $1.45 million, Williams established himself as one of the best prospects in baseball with a breakout season in '12 before slipping, batting just .223 with a .290 on-base percentage last season at Double-A Trenton.
"Probably last year, failing the whole year -- I would say, that's what clicked," Williams said. "I learned a lot. I just understood how to not put myself back in the same situation. It really helped me."
Williams batted .317 (38-for-120) with 14 runs, seven doubles, 11 RBIs and 11 steals in 34 games this year at Trenton, then was promoted to Triple-A on May 21. He batted .321 (26-for-81) with 12 runs, seven doubles and 11 RBIs in 20 games with the RailRiders. He is ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Yankees' No. 26 prospect.
"For a young man, there was a lot expected because he was a high draft choice, and he has really come quickly this year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's outstanding in Double-A, played all over the place, center, left and right; probably as good a center fielder as there is in our organization."
With Jacoby Ellsbury potentially on the disabled list for the rest of the month, the Yankees plan to play the lefty-swinging Williams in center field against right-handed starting pitchers, allowing Brett Gardner to return to left field. That was why they opted to promote Williams over recalling Ramon Flores, primarily a left fielder.
"We wanted to go with Mason because of the defensive aspect," general manager Brian Cashman said. "He's a pure center fielder and one of the best ones we have in our system. He had been playing just as well and I think it will give Joe the flexibility if and when he chooses to rest Gardy."