By now you’ve most likely heard of him. As one of the bonus babies, he signed for $1.5 million in 2010. Prospect pundits rank him as the consensus third best prospect in the system. The son of Derwin Williams, a former wide receiver for the New England Patriots, he was clearly the beneficiary of some superior athletic genes. But what is it about Mason Williams that has the Yankees Universe© abuzz? Well, it starts with his scouting report and it has continued with the spectacular show he has put on since donning the Yankees uniform in the GCL.
As is customary, Bronx Baseball Daily Prospects will highlight the performance first.
After signing in 2010, Williams had a brief stint with the GCL Yankees where he had just 18 at bats to get his feet wet. Then in 2011 he burst onto the scene with the Staten Island Yankees, where he earned player of the week in August and performed well enough to make the New York-Penn league all-star team. He hit .349/.395/.468/.863 in 269 at bats. He slugged three homeruns and stole 28 bases while getting caught 12 times. The power was not yet apparent, but scouts agreed that this aspect of his game would soon develop.
Lo behold, Mason packed on the pounds for the 2012 season, and the power numbers reflect that. In 276 at bats, his homerun totals have more than doubled (8). He has already stroked 19 doubles, up from 11 last season, in just seven more at bats. His batting line is .302/.356/.484/.840, and he’s stolen 19 bases in 28 attempts. As a 20 year old, his performance in Low-A Charleston earned him a promotion to High-A Tampa two days ago. Mason was also selected for the South Atlantic Season All-Star game for his stellar production.
Many players put up similar stat lines in these two leagues, but this doesn’t land them on top 100 lists. It follows then that there must be something unique about this 6-foot-1, 165-pound right armed, lefty hitting center fielder that makes him so appealing to scouts. Every scout knows to look for tools and makeup. Mason Williams has both.
The first thing any scout notices about Williams is his lightning speed and aggression on the base paths. As is indicated by the high caught stealing totals, he still has some work to do reading pitchers. The quickness is evident, however, in his stolen base totals and ability to chase down balls in the outfield. He has the raw speed to make a difference, and the numbers bear that out so far in his career.
If speed was his only strength, then Williams would project as a Brett Gardner type. This would obviously not be a bad thing, as Gardner has already had success in the major leagues in his young and promising career. Talent evaluators have also been extremely impressed with Mason’s swing though.
The left handed swing is a thing of beauty, and he is able to square up balls with the best of them. Power is not the name of his game, but he is able to send balls sailing from time to time. Having stroked eight homeruns mid way through his first full season, that power has begun to develop. He is an aggressive hitter and will take his hacks early in the count, but is also capable of showing patience and taking walks.
His defensive skill set is unquestionable. Coupled with great natural instincts and plus speed, his already major league average arm makes for a lethal combination that has future gold glove candidate written all over it. Pitchers can feel confident with Williams patrolling centerfield.
The projection is particularly high wiT. Williams. He already possesses such advanced talent that one doesn’t have to dream all that hard to envision a future leadoff hitter with the power to drive the ball out of the park. His ceiling is that of a consistent 30/30 threat. The 2011 version of Jacoby Ellsbury is a legitimate possibility. As with any highly touted prospect in the lower minors, there is obviously a chance that things won’t work out so well, and he could end up fizzling out as a fourth outfielder type.
His estimated time of arrival is approximately 2015. If he continues to advance rapidly, he could play in Double-A as soon as next season. From there, he could be ready for the major leagues by 2014, but that would be a bit optimistic. If he takes a full year in both Double-A and Triple-A, then he could break in during the 2015 season. I wouldn’t put it past him to move faster though.
Mason Williams is one of the only players on the farm with true five tool potential. It will be fun to watch him ascend rapidly through the system. Hopefully someday we will once again be able to look at the lineup card, and there, next to CF, will read Williams. Obviously there will be an M in front of it instead of the B we all knew and loved (I am of course referring to the great Bernie Williams).
Fanboy fantasies aside, Mason Williams is a superior talent and will be making waves in the minor league system for years to come. We can only hope he turns out as well as the last great homegrown centerfielder to grace the outfield at Yankee Stadium.