Two-homer game takes Williams' scorching start to new heights

April 19th, 2024

You’ve heard how important it is for any player to get off to a hot start. has definitely bought into that philosophy.

Few, if any, prospects have started the season stronger than MLB's No. 18 overall prospect. And Williams is showing no signs of slowing down. The latest example came Thursday when Williams slugged two homers to pace Double-A Montgomery in a 15-2 rout of Tennessee at Smokies Stadium.

The Rays' No. 2 prospect also singled on a three-hit, three-RBI night. It was perhaps the finest overall offensive showing in a season already full of them for the reigning Southern League Player of the Week.

Williams, the 28th overall pick in the 2021 Draft, has always had above-average tools almost across the board. The only question was whether he’d be drafted as a position player or a pitcher, and once he entered Tampa Bay's system, whether he’d hit enough to grow into an impactful big leaguer.

The 20-year-old started answering those questions in his first two pro seasons. But Williams entered this year far from a finished product, looking to refine his approach with an eye toward reducing the strikeout numbers that zapped his production for stretches at the lower levels of the Minors.

“It’s just getting more comfortable in the box, making sure my move is cleaner and direction and all different types of stuff,” he told’s Adam Berry this spring. “We’ve been working, and it feels really good right now. Like where it’s headed.”

Williams left camp feeling like he was in a good place mechanically. But he couldn’t have known he’d start off this well. Through 10 games this season, the San Diego-area native is hitting .442 (19-for-43) with three home runs, 14 runs scored, nine RBIs and four steals. He leads the Southern League in hits, runs, average, slugging (.791) and OPS (1.280).

What’s more? He’s only struck out eight times in 43 plate appearances, about 19 percent in a small sample. It’s still very early, but that’s a huge improvement on his 31.4 percent K-rate from 2023.

The Rays were hoping Montgomery would take a step forward this year, and he's come out of the gate with eye-popping numbers at the plate.

“He’s starting to understand his strengths, his plan at the plate, how to attack pitchers, how pitchers are going to attack him and he’s able to make adjustments pitch to pitch,” Rays senior director of player development Blake Butera told Berry this week. “He looks really good.”