It's been a trying season for top prospect Mason Williams. There was his DUI arrest in late April, a slow start at the plate after that carried over into the early part of June, and questions about his attitude and hustle popping up again in scouting reports. He's missed games both due to minor injuries and undisclosed team reasons this season, and as recently as a month ago had a season OPS in the mid-600s. Since about the middle of June, however, Williams has started to find himself at the plate and is currently in the middle of a pretty wicked 2-week hot streak. He got knocked off track early, but Williams now appears primed for a strong finish to his 2013.
In his last 10 games, Williams has 18 hits in 42 at-bats (.429/.467/.595) with 4 2B, 1 HR, 8 R, 3 RBI, and 3 SB. He has at least 2 hits in each of his last 4 games and has walked just as much as he's struck out. Williams is hitting .440/.462/.560 for the month of July, and that's after putting up a .805 OPS in June. The hot month has raised his season batting line to .269/.344/.372 (.333 wOBA), right in line with his level of production after his initial call up to High-A last year.
His improvement in BB and K rates this season combined with his scorching July suggests Williams has figured it out at this level. His power is down, but that being his weakest projected offensive tool anyway, it's probably not a huge concern for the Yankees. He's still over a month short of his 22nd birthday and he still grades out as a 4-4.5-star centerfield prospect at his peak. To have a player like that on the cusp of moving to Double-A ball is not a bad thing when you need as much help up the middle as the Yankees do.
It's been another down year for the Yankee farm system in 2013 and Williams has been a big part of that. He's struggled on and off the field and lost a lot of the hype he'd built up over his first 2 pro seasons, evidenced by him dropping of most every national mid-season top prospect list after appearing on more than 1 preseason list. A continuation of his current hot hitting trends through the end of the season would go a long way towards re-establishing his prospect value and towards giving the Yankee system something good to build on for next season.
(Photo courtesy of Cliff Welch/MiLB.com)