Willy trained with Dee Gordon, Billy Hamilton, Francisco Lindor and others in Orlando in January…he said he wasn't sure who the fastest player there was, but knows it wasn't him... While playing for Class-A Charlotte, Willy lived with teammates Andrew Velazquez and Kean Wong…he credits them for helping him pick up English so quickly... Willy's favorite part of Triple-A Durham's championship run last season was that Kean Wong- his roommate since 2015-was named Most Valuable Player of the Triple-A Championship Game over Memphis (Cardinals).... Following his July 2014 trade from the Tigers to the Rays, he sent his full collection of Tigers apparel back to the Dominican Republic to be distributed among friends and family... As a kid, Willy and his friends loved to play down by the river…he would occasionally sneak out of the house at night to go there despite being caught multiple times.... Longtime Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics has repeatedly called Willy "The Pied Piper" because of his attitude, talent, work ethic and leadership ability.
Spent his age-21 season with Durham…was the third-youngest player on an International League Opening Day roster, behind 20-year-old Ozzie Albies (Gwinnett) and teammate Jake Bauers (21)... Named Most Valuable Player for Durham by the Rays Baseball Operations department…tied for 3rd in the IL with a team-leading and careerhigh 140 hits, surpassing his 133 hits in 2016 with Double-A Montgomery…also led the team with 5 3B and 210 total bases... His 62 RBI and .277 avg. were both career highs... Named to the IL midseason All-Star Team, his third consecutive year receiving midseason AllStar honors... From the start of June through the end of the season, hit .303/.389/.455 (98-for-323) with 8 HR and 41 RBI in 84 games…through the first two months, was batting .230/.309/.344 (42-for-183) with 2 HR and 21 RBI in 46 games... Named the Rays Minor League Hitter of the Month for June, batting .350/.449/.550 (35-for100) with 5 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR and 12 RBI... According to Baseball Reference, did not have a single plate appearance against a pitcher younger than him... Named to the Rays Organizational All-Star Team by MLB.com... Ranked by Baseball America as the No. 19 overall prospect in the minors following the season… was the No. 2 prospect in the Rays system and No. 5 prospect in the IL…the publication also tabbed him as the Best Defensive Shortstop and Best Infield Arm in the IL in its Best Tools survey... Ranked by Baseball America as the Best Defensive Infielder in the Rays organization for a fourth consecutive year…also tabbed as the Best Infield Arm in the system.
Spent his age-20 season with Double-A Montgomery…established career highs in games (132), runs (89), hits (133), doubles (31), home runs (11), stolen bases (13), walks (74) and SLG (.430). Led the Southern League in runs and walks…also ranked among league leaders in doubles (3rd), extra-base hits (3rd), OBP (4th), SLG (5th) and total bases (3rd). Named to the SL midseason and postseason All-Star teams. All 112 starts came at shortstop. Had 4 HR through the end of April, matching his output from the season prior with Charlotte. Hit .324/.407/.602 (35-for-108) with 6 HR and 20 RBI vs. LHP. According to Baseball Reference, had only 6 PA against pitchers younger than him…had 562 PA against older pitchers. Was the starting shortstop for the World team in the Futures Game in July at Petco Park. Ranked by Baseball America as the No. 10 over-all prospect in the minors entering the 2017 season…was the No. 1 prospect in the Rays or-ganization and the No. 2 prospect in the SL, behind Dansby Swanson (Braves), following the 2016 season…the publication also tabbed him as the Best Defensive Infielder in the system for the third straight season.