Williams Revamped

Mason Williams has worked on a new swing

Mason Williams is a leadoff hitter. Pure and simple. With way above average speed and the ability to put the ball in play to all fields, he looks to live up to his potential as a 4th round draft pick in 2010 after changing his swing in Extended Spring Training.

Before the 2011 spring training began, Mason Williams had a very different swing and approach at the plate. He would try and push the ball with an open stance, rather than staying back and driving it. He and the Yankees' coaches have made an adjustment and it seems to working just fine heading into the Staten Island season.

"Before Extended Spring Training started, I was more of a slap hitter," Williams said. "But now I'm using more of my legs, driving the ball into the gaps."

A .450 hitter in his senior year at West Orange High School in Florida, Williams' swing was working against less effective pitchers. Once he was signed and joined the Gulf Coast League at the end of last season, it was obvious that a change needed to be made.

In a very small sample size, Williams played in five games. He recorded just four hits in 18 at-bats, all singles, and also struck out four times.

After making a few adjustments in the Dominican instructional league, he arrived in Tampa for Spring training and completed the overhaul. His stance is more closed now and he isn't throwing his bat at pitches. It's working.

"I like [the new swing] a lot more than I used to," Williams said. "I have more confidence at the plate. I'm hitting the ball a lot harder with some back spin."

The power has yet to fully develop for the 19-year-old. Listed at 6'0Ó and 150 pounds, he has a long way until he's hit his physical peak. His father is a former NFL player though, so it's not ridiculous to think that Williams could add a significant amount of weight and strength within the next season or two.

Although he's a gap hitter right now, don't be surprised if a few balls start falling over fences soon, as a result of his tendency to hit balls hard on a line and an added few pounds.

The fielding aspect of Williams' game is the most solid. He can be seen making highlight reel catches often and also has an average arm that's waiting to be developed. As the strength and weight come, his throws will become much stronger.

He has the speed to really play anywhere. For now though, Williams patrols the outfield. He's a natural centerfielder.

"I think I'm there," Williams said. "Fielding-wise, I'm real confident."

The most exciting part of this prospect's future though, is in his legs. GCL Manager Carlos Mendoza, who worked with Williams in Extended, agrees.

"I'm not going to compare him to anyone in particular but he's one of our top guys speed-wise," Mendoza said. "It's fun to watch him play."

During Spring Training and Extended Spring Training, it was a stolen base showcase for Williams. If he gets on base, it's very probable he'll be running.

Since his leads are always the same, and his speed is getting better in very small increments, the biggest thing he can consciously work on is reading the pitcher. He says this is the biggest improvement left in his game as he continues to strive for quality jumps.

A potential first round pick that dropped to the Yankees in the fourth, he could end up being huge over the next few years. Williams needs to grow into his body still, but he's already shown glimpses of a definite lead-off hitter, especially now with his revamped swing.

"He's fast and he's got a good idea at the plate," coach Mendoza added. "So he's got a chance to be a pretty special ballplayer."

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