Phils prospect Williams nets 1st hit after callup

Outfielder, who replaced injured Kendrick, thrilled by MLB debut

June 30th, 2017

NEW YORK -- had a huge smile on his face as he strolled through the Phillies' dugout Friday afternoon at Citi Field.

He loved his first look at the ballpark.

He later ripped a single to center field against Mets right-hander in the seventh inning of a 2-1 loss. It was the first hit of his career in the first game of his career. The Phillies promoted Williams, who is the organization's No. 5 prospect, following Thursday's game with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He replaced , whom the Phillies placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

Williams went 1-for-3 against deGrom. He struck out looking in the first inning and lined out to center field in the fifth.

"It was great," Williams said afterward. "It's good to get the first hit out of the way, but honestly I liked my second AB [in the fifth inning] better, because I laid off some tough pitches. It wasn't a hit, but I hit the ball pretty good and nearly beat him. I think I was more nervous on defense than offense. At the plate I felt pretty confident. Defense, I was just looking around -- geez, this feels huge."

New York quickly has become an important part of Williams' personal history. He got engaged two months ago in Central Park.

"I think New York is the place to be," Williams said.

Phillies fans think the Majors are where Williams should be. He hit .280 with 16 doubles, two triples, 15 home runs, 44 RBIs and an .839 OPS in 306 plate appearances with Lehigh Valley. But he also walked just 16 times and struck out 90 times, which partially explains why Williams was not promoted earlier.

The Phillies wanted him to improve his discipline at the plate. Williams walked eight times in the past two weeks, which helped his cause.

"I'm more selective, more patient," Williams said. "I realized I have more time. I just took some pitches here and there and realized I had more time than I ever thought. With that, I felt more comfortable and it was easier to see more pitches and [be] selective as to where I wanted the ball."

He thinks he can maintain that approach in the big leagues.

It remains to be seen how long Williams will be with the Phillies. It is not a lock that he is here to stay. He could rejoin Lehigh Valley once Kendrick is activated or perhaps earlier when is activated from the DL, only to return later.

Of course, if Williams has a great weekend in New York, he could stick.

"It was a good time to give him a shot," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "There's no commitment to anything, really. We just want to get a look at him. He's going to play as often as I can play him."

Triple-A manager Dusty Wathan gave Williams the good news Thursday, but Williams said he did not believe him at first, as Wathan joked with him about running out balls.

"I've been running hard," Williams responded. "My times have been fast. I've been looking."

"I don't want Pete to call and say you're not running balls out," Wathan replied.

"No way," Williams said.

Williams smiled widely, recalling the moment he learned he made the big leagues.

"It was just mind boggling," he said. "I was the most happiest person in the world."