Scouting Yankees Prospect #1: Mason Williams

Williams can do everything on a baseball field

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. A speedster and gifted defensive player, one who could hit too, he added power to his game in his first taste of the long-season leagues last year and now he's one of the top prospects in the game of baseball.

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

He hit a combined .298 with eleven home runs and twenty stolen bases between low-A Charleston and high-A Tampa last year before a season-ending injury to his shoulder put him on the shelf in late July.

"I feel like I did well [last] season," Williams said. "It's definitely heart breaking getting hurt late in the season and I definitely wanted to stay and complete my first full season, but that didn't happen."

He had labrum surgery on his non-throwing shoulder after years of pounding it into the grass while making diving attempts in the outfield.

"It was something that occurred over numerous times," he admitted. "It happened in Charleston when I was playing with the RiverDogs [and] it happened in Tampa. I tore the labrum in my left shoulder. I was very disappointed.

"At the time we were making a playoff run and there was only three or four weeks left in the season so it was definitely crunch time in the season so I was definitely disappointed that I had to get this thing done. I wanted to get it out of the way now so I don't have to think about it in the future."

The injury was really the only blight on what was otherwise a coming out part for the leadoff hitter in 2012, something that had started in the offseason a year ago when he put on nearly thirty pounds to his rather slender frame at the time to now feeling really strong.

"I felt more confident with it," he said of the added weight. "The power and the home runs, I don't know where that came from actually. I'm still trying to gain weight and get better but right now my main priority is getting my shoulder stronger."

He began swinging a bat back in late November and by all accounts he will be a full-go by the start of Spring Training this year. And really that's all he needs at this point, time and health, because everything else is already in place for him to be a game-changing player.

"Overall, I've been very impressed," Charleston manager Carlos Mendoza said. "Coming into [the] season, everyone knew what kind of player he was.

"But just watching him play on a daily basis is fun to watch. This is a guy who can help a team in so many ways — defensively, offensively, on the bases, laying a bunt down. I'm having a blast having him on the team."

"The guy just knows how to put the barrel on the ball, as well as anyone in our organization," Tampa hitting coach Justin 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.

"I see him somewhere toward the top of the lineup for good. 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 [had] 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."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

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. He has all the makings of being a high-average hitter someday; great bat speed, patience at the plate, a willingness to use the whole field, above average bunting ability and the great speed to beat out infield hits, a natural knack for squaring up balls, he doesn't strike out much, and one of the most consistent swing paths around. His power, once below average, has become a big league average tool and he still has room to get stronger and bump that power up a notch higher too. About the only weakness in his game is a lack of drawing walks but that is because of his aggressive nature, not bad pitch recognition.

Base Running and Speed. With plus-plus speed, Williams is a game-changer on the base paths. Brett Gardner-like in almost every way, like Gardner he is almost not aggressive enough stealing bases. A little less hesitation and he should be a 40-plus stolen base threat each year.

Defense. He is already a Gold Glove caliber centerfielder because of his plus-plus range, natural instincts, and above average arm strength.

Projection. Prior to the weight gain a year ago Williams compared favorably to current Yankee outfielder Brett Gardner as a speedy leadoff type who could hit for average and play amazing defense, albeit with a bit more power potential. However, the power is starting to come around quickly and with virtually no weaknesses in his game he appears to have the ceiling of a left-handed hitting version of Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, another smallish player in his younger professional days whose burgeoning power eventually caught up to his innate hitting abilities. Like McCutchen, Williams can physically do anything on a baseball diamond but he does need a little more mental maturation to bring his entire game together more.

ETA. 2014. Williams will most likely open up the 2013 season back in high-A Tampa but it should not be long before he's ready for Double-A Trenton. He could very well be big league ready the following year.

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