Who is Nick Williams?
Williams is a 19 year old (20 in September) left fielder, who moonlights as a center fielder. The 6'3'', 195 pound lefthander hits baseballs. He just hits them. Hitting is the Williams what writing was to Kerouac, what cooking was to Julia Child. Drafted in the first round of the 2012 Draft out of Ball (Galveston) High School, Williams has accumulated over 500 plate appearances as a professional, split between the Arizona Rookie League last year and Hickory in Low-A this year.
Nick Williams will succeed because of:
I don't know if there's a player in the Ranger's minor league system with a tool I'm more enamored with than Williams' ability to hit a baseball. The only players with comparable hit tools are High-A Myrtle Beach's Rougned Odor and AA Frisco's Hanser Alberto (maybe Eduardo Pinto, but he's just breaking into Spokane now, so let's leave him off).
How good is Williams? There are seven hitters in the Sally with a higher average than Williams' 312. None of them are less than two years older than Williams.
I spent a good part of last week yelling at you across a Dairy Queen parking lot about how awesome Joey Gallo's power is. Williams is currently slugging 52 points higher than Gallo.
Ryan Rua (Williams' and Gallo's teammate) is leading the minor leagues in home runs as of press time. Williams is still slugging three points higher than Rua.
Williams has 91 hits, and 41 have gone for extra bases. He's tied with Micah Johnson for the league lead in triples. Johnson is almost three years older than Williams.
Nick Williams will fail because of:
This may be nitpicking, but Williams has walked 28 times in his minor league career, while striking out 126 times. With William's power and his ability to drive the ball, turning some of those strikeouts into walks would make him one of the best prospects in the game.
Of course, there was once another athletic, multi-tool outfield prospect the Rangers had who succeeded throughout the lower levels while being one of the youngest players in his league, but then it took four seasons for him to make it through AA and debut in the majors, as a pat-time, injury replacement; because his inability to take a pitch (based off his confidence that he could hit any pitch the guy was dumb enough to throw him) was exploited by advanced pitchers at higher levels. But you know Engel Beltre well enough.
Williams certainly doesn't suffer from a lack of confidence; if anything, he has a surplus of it. Which is good, because baseball is hard and confidence is necessary. But baseball is also necessarily humbling, and Williams has yet to be humbled by competitive ball. That day will come, and how Williams responds will likely determine if he hits his ceiling more than anything else.
A baseball player Nick Williams should remind you of:
Williams is athletic, good defensively in a corner outfield spot (good enough to likely play a passable centerfield, although his arm is somewhere below average, which hurts him in right and center), but makes his bones with his bat. Johnny Damon has been mentioned as a best-case scenario, but I think Carl Crawford is just a little bit better as a best-case comparison.
A retired wrestler Nick Williams should remind you of:
I'm pretty certain Nick Williams has patterned his personality after that of Shawn Michaels. In fact, just imagine Shawn Michaels playing baseball, and you have Nick Williams. For perspective, Shawn Michaels sang his own entrance theme, the lyrics of which revolved around how sexy Shawn Michaels was.
Before his career is up, I feel Nick Williams will either walk up to an at-bat to a song he's singing, or the Shawn Michaels theme song itself.
In one year, Williams will be:
Getting the hang of the Texas League in Frisco. Texas hasn't been shy about letting advanced prospects either skip or short-time High-A, and Williams is the most likely of the ridiculous stable of hitters in Hickory (Williams, Gallo, Rua, Lewis Brinson, Nomar Mazara, Ronald Guzman, and Jorge Alafaro grace the Crawdad's everyday lineup) to skip Myrtle Beach and make the jump to AA.