CHARLESTON, SC - Mason Williams has proven all season long that he is one of the top prospects in…
Just A Matter Of Time For Williams
"There are a lot of older guys here, and a lot of smarter players here," Williams said. "The main difference, I would think is the way they pitch you. 0-0 most of the time in Charleston you would see fastball. Here in Tampa you might see changeup or slider."
After all of that success in Staten Island and Charleston, Williams was not used to struggling like he did a bit when he first came to Tampa.
"I definitely struggled a bit my first couple of weeks in Tampa, and now I'm starting to play a lot better recently," Williams said before landing on the 7-day DL this weekend. "I definitely feel a lot better now. Just having more at-bats, seeing more pitches, playing more games has been tremendous. I just had to get my feet wet and get acclimated to the new environment but I feel good now."
Williams acknowledges that he is a student of the game and wants to get better.
"It was definitely a little hard mentally, but I knew I was going into an environment with a lot of older, better guys with more competition," he said. "I know I have to stick to my game plan and just play hard and play the right way, and hopefully things will play out the right way for me."
One of the things that makes Williams so special is his speed. That is what gives him the ability to drop bunts down for base hits, beat out infield singles and chase balls in the gaps.
"A lot of players don't really know how important it can be to lay a bunt down for instance, and I always have that in my back pocket and I feel comfortable knowing that I can do that at times," he said. "Even if you have an awful swing and maybe tap one to short or second, playing the game hard and running hard down the line, you never know if you can get a base hit off that."
Hitting coach Justin Turner appreciates Williams' abilities.
"I think he had 17 bunt base hits last year and has another seven or eight this year," Turner said. "Like I said, he has speed and he doesn't have to lay down a good bunt to beat it out. He's lightning fast. He just has to get it down on the ground fair and he'll have a chance to beat it out."
Turner was not worried about Williams' slow start in Tampa.
"He's a young player, new league, there is an adjustment period," said Turner. "Guys pitch different, there are older pitchers. It didn't take him very long and he's been getting acclimated pretty well.
"Nothing has changed; it's just realize that you belong. There might be that little moment of doubt, that 'am I ready for it?' and once you realize it's just a white ball being thrown from 60 feet six inches you realize it's okay."
Turner had plenty of praise for Williams, especially after he began his time in Tampa hitting just .175 through his first ten games to respond by hitting safely in eleven of his next twelve games, batting .372 over that span before landing on the disabled list.
"The guy just knows how to put the barrel on the ball, as well as anyone in our organization," Turner said. "There's stuff you can't teach. The ability to hit good pitches and the ability to hit bad pitches, not to mention you've got speed and gold-glove caliber defense."
Coach Turner agrees that time is what Williams need the most.
"I see him somewhere toward the top of the lineup for good," said Turner. "He has game changing speed that puts pressure on the defense. He has the ability to hit a ground ball and beat it out and has the ability to put the ball out of the ballpark; he has eleven home runs on the year.
"He's a special player and has a chance to be a good one for a long time. He just needs experience. He just needs to get time under his belt."
Even with his lightning speed, Williams is just one for five on stolen base attempts in Tampa this year. Coach Turner doesn't believe that's cause for much concern.
"You've got to get thrown out if you're gonna learn to steal bases," Turner said. "He doesn't have any fear. It's learning tendencies, good count, and good hitter to run on. If he doesn't get a good jump the catcher has a chance to throw him out, if he gets a good jump, you don't have a chance."
Williams is batting .277 in the Florida State League, but has been hot of late. In his last 10 games, Williams is 14-36. The future looks very bright for this promising young centerfielder.
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