In the aftermath of the community prospect rankings wrapping up last year, I figured I'd do write-ups for each Ranger prospect who finished in the top 25, in the order that they were selected. It was something that seemed to go well, and so I've decided to do this again.
Two caveats about this: First, I have no first-hand information about most of these guys, and for the hard-core prospect-philes out there, you probably know everything that I'll be writing about these players.
Secondly, since I did this last season, a lot of the material is going to be a repeat from last year. I'm going to cut-and-paste certain things from last year, simply because I don't see the need to completely re-invent the wheel in terms of talking about what Martin Perez did in 2008 or something like that. So don't complain about that.
Moving right along, today we are looking at the #13 player in the community prospect rankings, Nick Williams.
Nick Williams is a 6'3", 195 lb. lefthanded hitting outfielder out of Ball High School in Galveston, Texas, who was selected by the Rangers in the second round of the 2012 draft. Heading into the draft, Baseball America had Williams ranked #100 in their top 500 list, and John Sickels has Williams ranked #81 in his top 100 list. Frankie Piliere had Williams ranked #41 on his February, 2012, top 100 list. Keith Law did not include Williams in his top 100 prospect list. Sickels' community mock draft had Williams going in the 2nd round to the Seattle Mariners.
BA praised Williams' bat speed and "raw strength," but in high school, Williams seemingly wasn't able to translate that into results at the plate, with BA dinging him for his inability to make contact or to recognize breaking pitches. BA also said of Williams before the draft that he "lacks instincts in all phases of the game," including poor route-running and below-average times to first base despite running a 6.5 60 yard dash.
So, why did the Rangers pick him in the second round? Williams has a bunch of tools -- he's not a five-tool guy, as he doesn't have a good arm, but the other four traditional tools all show potential. He's the type of player the Rangers may believe they can develop into a speedy, power-hitting centerfielder, much like they did with Cone.
Williams had a fairly successful 2012 professional debut, hitting .313/.375/.448 in 224 plate appearances in the Arizona Rookie League, although he was somewhat overshadowed by some of his more heralded teammates, and didn't crack the Baseball America top 20 prospect list for the AZL.
Williams will likely either join a loaded Hickory team when the minor league season kicks off, or will stay back in extended spring training and join the Rangers' short season A affiliate in the Northwest League when the NWL season kicks off in June. In terms of ceiling, best case scenario for Williams' ceiling is a guy who can hit, has some power, is fast, but doesn't have a great arm...that sounds a little bit like Johnny Damon, although that is forcing a comp, as Professor Parks likes to say. Still, if you want to dream about what Williams could become, Damon can at least give you a general outline of what you may be looking at.
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