Scouting Yankees Prospect #7: Mason Williams

Williams still has a significant ceiling

The New York Yankees selected outfielder Mason Williams in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of West Orange High School in Florida. It was a disappointing overall season in many respects for him last year, hitting just a combined .245 between high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, but inside the pedestrian numbers there was real cause for optimism.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Mason Williams
Position: Centerfield
DOB: August 21, 1991
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 165
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

His 2012 season ended prematurely when a torn labrum required shoulder surgery and it took him a while to bounce back last year, hitting just .235 in his first 47 games for the high-A Tampa Yankees.

"I had labrum surgery in the offseason so getting my shoulder back to 100 percent was my main priority," Williams said. "My numbers really [weren't] where I want them to be, but the only thing I can really do is keep playing everyday and right now I'm just taking it day by day."

In true snowball fashion, he wanted to prove he was fully back and began pressing at the plate right out of the gate, and it only made matters worse.

"Pressing? Well, maybe a little bit," Tampa hitting coach Marcus Thames said earlier last season. "He's like [Angelo] Gumbs. Those guys never failed and they're still young so it's hard seeing your numbers fall and sometimes they don't know how to get out of it.

"They get into their own head and try too hard. He's been pressing a little."

He simply found himself too anxious at the plate, abandoning his normally patient approach and swinging at pitches he normally wouldn't swing at.

"I struggled a good amount in Tampa," Williams admitted. "I didn't get off to the start that I wanted to. It came down to really trusting my work and every day I kept working hard and believing I could get better day by day. I got to know what kind of hitter I am."

He finally got back to his patient ways about two months into the season, cutting his strikeout ratio nearly in half from the first half of the season, and wound up hitting a very respectable .283 over his final 53 games with Tampa.

"He's come a long way and I've told him it's a marathon, not a sprint, try and finish," Thames said. "He's been working really hard and I'm really proud of where he's at right now. He' just got to keep it going.

"I mean I saw the work in the cages, and all that stuff that we've been working on since [last] February, it's starting to show up and the results are there. He's only going to get better. I really do believe that, and if he keeps putting in the work he's only going to get better."

His second-half adjustments allowed him to get promoted to Double-A Trenton. The jump from high-A to Double-A is always considered one of the hardest and when he hit just .153 in his 17-game trial with the Thunder it brought out the critics once again.

"As a young hitter you need to give him time to see what he's going to do," Thunder manager Tony Franklin said. "I think in time Mason is going to be okay because he's a pretty intelligent kid and can figure some things out.

"As a young hitter, you need to give him time to see what he's going to do. It's no different than with any of those other young guys."

While many pundits who only watch numbers see the fluctuating production over the course of the season, team insiders see something different -- they see a talented player learning to make adjustments, and they have a ton of faith in his long-term promise.

"[Mason] doesn't miss many pitches in the strike zone," Trenton hitting coach Justin Turner said. "If the ball is in the zone, he has a good chance to put the barrel on it because he's just that talented of a hitter.

"So it's just getting something that you want to hit, stay aggressive, get on the base paths, and for him, do some damage with your speed."

"Mason has good hand-eye coordination," Thames added. "He can hit the ball all over the place and if he stays in a good, strong hit position and swings at good pitches he's going to be fine.

"If he keeps working the way he is and staying positive, I think he'll be just fine."














2013 Trenton .153 72 3 1 4 7 0 1 18 .164 .264
2013 Tampa .261 406 21 3 24 56 15 39 61 .327 .350
2012 Tampa .277 83 3 3 7 13 1 3 14 .302 .422
2012 Charleston .304 276 19 8 28 55 19 21 33 .359 .489
2011 Staten Island .349 269 11 3 31 42 28 20 41 .395 .468
2010 GCL Yankees .222 18 0 0 0 0 1 1 4 .263 .222

Batting and Power. Williams has the basic foundation to be a very good hitter for average; plus bat speed, a willingness to use the whole field, and good pitch recognition. He is also an aggressive hitter who mostly attacks pitches he's looking for. However, while that is a positive, it can also be a negative while he learns to balance that aggression with more controlled patience at the plate. He will at times try to do too much at the plate and swing at pitches out of the zone when he's better served waiting one pitch longer in at-bats. He has average big league power potential for a centerfielder too.

Base Running and Speed. While he is aggressive at the plate, Williams, a plus-plus runner, hasn't been able to transfer that style to the running game just yet. In almost Brett Gardner-like fashion, once he gets gunned down he'll put his running game in idle mode for far too long. Once he builds up a reliever's mentality and realizes that failure is part of the game, and begins to take more chances, he could have some special stolen base totals.

Defense. Plain and simple, he is already a Gold Glove caliber defensive centerfielder in every respect, although the arm strength is the one defensive tool that ranks above average and not plus.

Projection. With plus-plus speed and plus-plus defensive abilities, Williams already safely projects as a big league reserve outfielder cut in the mold of Endy Chavez at minimum. However, with average power potential and the natural ability to be a solid hitter for average too should he employ a consistent patient approach and not try to do too much at the plate, his ceiling is so much higher. There's some legitimate comparisons to former All Star outfielder Kenny Lofton tools-wise, the question is will he be nearly as patient offensively to tap that kind of ceiling. Making drawing walks a higher priority will be key.

ETA. 2015. Williams is slated for Double-A Trenton this season. A strong showing there would land him on the 40-man roster in the offseason with the opportunity to see some big league time the following year.

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to Why not get two months free AND get 3 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription.

Become an annual subscriber today! Recommended Stories

Up Next