Can Nick Williams Beat Nomar Mazara To The Texas Rangers
After declining Alex Rios’ option for 2015, does waiting on Double-A Frisco RoughRider Nick Williams to develop make sense? The Texas Rangers have a hole to fill in the outfield and the best MLB options are a struggling Michael Choice, or former minor league free agents Jake Smolinksi and Jim Adduci. This leaves Texas to choose between signing or acquiring 2015’s starting right fielder, or flipping a coin from within. As the club works to identify a replacement, does the organization need to take a wait and see approach with Williams and Nomar Mazara (ROTOscouting Report) on the horizon?
The former second round pick has bat speed to dream on. The quickest bat scouted in 2014, Williams has the hands and bat speed to be .300 major-league hitter. He is able to adjust his bat plane well to pitches in the strike zone. An slight uppercut on low balls in the zone allows the left-handed hitter to create backspin and lift pitches at the knees. Williams is also able to keep his bat relatively level on pitches above the belt. This is similar to the player Mike Newman scouted the year previous;
Finally, Nick Williams stole the show for me as a future above average player who combines both contact ability and power. In game action, he reminded me of Joc Pederson with average to above tools across the board. Together, the tools play up and what’s left is a dangerous hitter. Unlike other outfielders mentioned, Williams has a more compact frame allowing for repeatable swing mechanics. His hit tool is also far superior to any legit prospect on that team.
However, the two-time minor league All-Star utilizes an undisciplined approach at the plate. According to Scott Lucas, he swung at 61% of pitches seen at the Double-A level. Williams shows little feel or care for the strike zone. In fact, the top-ten Rangers prospect has described his approach along the lines of see the ball, hit the ball.
Video by Chris Blessing
This carries over into game action as the Texas high school product shows a lack of ability to make in-game adjustments. In one plate appearance, Nick Williams faced three consecutive curveballs which started at the knees and dropped out of the zone. He proceeded to chase and swing through all three. In order for him to maximize his potential, the lefty will need to become a smarter hitter. Veteran sequencing and major league pitchability will give Williams fits without a more patient approach. A 2014 slashline of .283/.331/.462 despite these attributes demonstrates his rare natural talent.
Listed at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, the 2012 draft pick has plenty of room to add strength. At the moment, Williams presents as tall and lanky. Despite possessing undeveloped muscles, the 21-year-old is able to show significant power. Given his bat speed and swing path, doubles power is a given (30 in 2014) and home run power can develop further (13 in 2014). He finished second in the Carolina League in slugging percentage to boot. If he is able to maximize his frame, future home run totals will see Williams push 20-plus.
In the field, Nick Williams is talented but under developed too. Shoddy routes are too common of a sight, making range an issue despite above average speed. The top-100 prospect owns a strong arm, but his throwing motion doesn’t utilize it. On the rare occasion Williams is able to keep his body behind his throw, his arm presents as above average. If the necessary work is put in to fix his funky motion, right field is a viable position for the 2013 breakout. Williams also fails to fully take advantage of his speed due to a slow first step out of the box.
The tools are not in question when discussing Nick Williams. Known for an undisciplined makeup both on and off the field, questions surround whether Williams will put in the work to become stronger, fit in with teammates and develop the finer points of hitting and fielding. This is why the extremely gifted player fell to the second round. The bat speed is salivating and the tools are loud enough for Williams to project as a MLB regular even if he fails to develop fully. The ceiling is high, but one must doubt whether he’ll ever reach it.
Tool Present Future Projected Role First Division Outfielder Hitting Ability 30 60 Power 30 50 Speed 50 50 Fielding Ability 40 50 Arm 40 55
Owning Nick Williams
Williams’ struggles in Double-A may provide a buy low opportunity to dynasty league owners. In spite of his makeup issues, he’s worth a flyer because of the bat speed and potential in the hit tool. Yes, impatient hitters often struggle to sustain high batting averages at the MLB level, but if the Rangers prospect can be the exception to the rule, he can become a strong contributor in 5×5 formats as the extra plate appearances will only help counting stats. Nick Williams comes with many if scenarios, but he does have the speed and power to hit 20 home runs and steal 10-15 bases at the MLB level if things break right. It’s a rare combination and one worth acquiring even if the risk of failure is high.
29 Oct 2014 / Grant Schiller /
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