Scouting profile: Nick Williams
Landed in Hamels trade, Phillies outfield prospect has exciting bat
For what seemed to be an eternity, the baseball world wondered when the Philadelphia Phillies would trade their perceived greatest asset, Cole Hamels, in an effort to rebuild the franchise with younger players carrying lengthy team control.
On July 31 this season, the Phillies transformed their franchise by sending the star left-hander Hamels and hard-throwing lefty reliever Jake Diekman to the pitching starved Texas Rangers. Both pitchers are among the reasons the Rangers made it to the playoffs as the American League West champions.
But the other end of the deal may have changed the Phillies for years to come. Prospects Jorge Alfaro, Jake Thompson, Alec Asher, Jerad Eickhoff, Nick Williams and veteran Matt Harrison offer a boatload of talent.
The trade was stunning and far-reaching. One of the component players in the transaction was Williams, a left-handed outfielder with a bag full of tools. He's 22.
The 6-foot-3, 195 pound Williams has a well-proportioned athletic frame. The Rangers selected him in the second round of the 2012 Draft out of Ball High School in Galveston, Texas. After parts of four Minor League seasons, Williams is No. 3 on the Phillies' Top 30 Prospects list.
Williams is still a work in progress. He has been inconsistent in his approach and results until this past season. He hit a combined .303 playing for Double-A Frisco for the Rangers (.299 in 415 plate appearances) and .320 over 100 plate appearances at Double-A Reading in the Phillies' organization.
I first saw Williams when he played for Surprise in the 2014 Arizona Fall League. He hit .277 with two homers and a solid 19 RBIs in his 27 autumn games.
Williams is an aggressive hitter with a very quick bat. That excellent bat speed helps him drive the ball and allows him to generate power from his strong body.
Using the entire field, Williams is a solid gap hitter with emerging home run power.
Considered an average outfielder by most, Williams is known more for his hitting and power upside than his fielding.
He has played all three outfield positions, but I project his best position to be left field. He looks and reacts more comfortably in that role.
Whenever I watch Williams play, his power and his good foot speed are evident. His outstanding bat speed forms the foundation of his overall hitting mechanics. He has a fluid swing and can punish a fastball.
Recently I have seen his highly aggressive approach become reduced a bit. That's a good thing.
This year, his splits against right- and left-handed pitching were a bit troubling. He hit .a very solid .330 against right-handed pitching, but only .210 vs. lefties. In 2014, his splits were close to equal, both being above .275.
I find this interesting
Williams is still a raw player. He is gaining momentum and learning more about his game as he continues his development.
Williams is a player who could ultimately hit .300 with 25 home runs if he continues his current progress. But risk remains that he won't consistently harness his abilities.
The future for Williams
There is risk involved in going out a limb with Williams. He has such great upside that the Phillies will likely give him every opportunity to be an offensive force in their hitter-friendly home park. I can see him arriving in late 2016.
His bat speed and the power in his athletic body are real. Can he translate upside to reality?
Williams in a word