Phillies Fall 2016 Top Ten Prospects: #5 - Nick Williams
The Philadelphia Phillies minor league and prospect improvement resulted in a lot of winning throughout the organization this past season.
That improvement included each of their minor league affiliates reaching the playoffs, and MiLB naming the Phillies as having the Best Farm System in 2016.
With all of the success, there were a few high-profile disappointments this year among the organizations crown jewel prospects. One of those was outfielder Nick Williams, who remains the Phillies #5 overall prospect.
Prior to the 2016 season, Williams was considered one of the top few dozen prospects in the game. Baseball American had him ranked 27th overall, and Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 25th in the game.
Williams had come to the Phillies organization as part of a massive haul from the Texas Rangers in the Cole Hamels deal at the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline.
The Rangers second round pick in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft out of a Galveston, Texas high school, Williams is a 6’3″ lefty hitter and fielder.
WILLIAMS PRO CAREER
He cranked 17 homers, 19 doubles, and a dozen triples in his first full professional season with the Rangers High-A team at Hickory in 2013 to shoot up the prospect rankings. He continued that type of production in each of the next two seasons.
Following the trade a year ago, Williams hit .320 with four homers and five doubles in just 22 games at AA Reading as a 21-year old.
Williams was promoted to the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs this season, and there was talk that with a strong year he could see Philadelphia at some point during the summer.
WILLIAMS MATURITY ISSUES ARISE
That never materialized, as Williams not only struggled on the field, but also struggled with Phillies management over his attitude and immaturity. Williams was benched twice in the early part of the season due to a lack of hustle by Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage.
“I had my conversation with Nick. He understands. He knows…understands everything that went down,” said Brundage per Sam Donnellon at Philly.com back in July.
“In our conversations, we’ve talked about playing the game right, playing the game hard and playing to win. I think those are three pretty good things to go on to start with. It’s all part of the development. Whether he’s in the lineup or not, we’ll make sure we get something out of it.’’
Williams began to hit as the summer wore on, but he finished up with a .258 batting average that was by far the lowest of his career to this point.
His production stats were, however, pretty much in line with his career norms. Williams ended with 13 homers, 33 doubles, 64 RBI, and 78 runs scored.
WILLIAMS SCOUTING INFO
In their scouting report on Williams, who they rank as the Phillies #3 overall prospect, MLB Pipeline states the following:
“Williams has an impressive combination of hand quickness and strength at the plate that allows him to drive just about any pitch he sees. That caused some trouble early on, as he was overly aggressive, but the left-handed hitting outfielder has improved his overall approach and plate discipline tremendously. More patience should continue to allow him to use his power more effectively. An above-average runner, Williams doesn’t always use his speed to his fullest advantage. He has the ability to play center field if he applies himself all of the time.”
WILLIAMS HEADING INTO THE 2017 SEASON
Having turned 23 years old in early September, it is time for Williams to step it up. When 2017 opens, he needs to show not only improved discipline and productivity at the plate, but also an improved attitude and a determination to be the best player that he possibly can.
Williams has the talent to be at the very top of the Phillies prospect rankings. He has fallen to my #5 spot because of the attitude issues. I need to see that improvement in maturity in order to move him up. More importantly, he’ll need to show it in order to reach his potential as the Phillies right fielder of the future.