Heading into his senior season, Nick Williams was considered a first round pick alongside fellow outfielder and Texan, Courtney Hawkins. Hawkins ended up the 13th overall pick, while Williams slipped another 80 spots, going 93rd overall to his home state Rangers. Williams stock fell because of an up and down senior year that saw him struggle some at the plate, which had previously been his saving grace. Williams signed for $500,000 in the second round, which was actually a little bit below slot money.
Williams has hit from the moment he signed, producing a .313/.375/.448 slash line in 48 games at the rookie level in 2012, and then he got off to a great start in 2013 going for a .303/.333/.618 slash line before coming down with an injury. While he only hit two home runs in 224 plate appearances in rookie ball, Williams upped his power output in Lo-A, going for seven home runs before his injury. Strikeouts are a legitimate and major issue though, as he struck out in over 22% of his at-bats after signing, and has seen that rate rise to an unsightly 28.4% so far this year. He did walk some in 2012, earning a 7.1% walk rate, but hasn't seen that figure transfer over (at least thus far) in 2013. Obviously 81 plate-appearances are not to produce any strong conclusions, so we will need to see how things play out over the rest of the year. Speed is an aspect of Williams game, as he stole 15 bases in 17 tries in 2012, though he's very raw as a basestealer and a defender.
Always a hitter, it was a major concern when Williams struggled to barrel balls in his senior year, showing a lot of swing and miss. He hasn't shown the inability to barrel balls since signing, but the swing and miss is everpresent. He has tremendous bat speed generated by very quick hands. He has a mature build, but there's still room for him to fill out, which might be necessary for some added power, as he's already been moved off of center field in favor of first round pick Lewis Brinson. He's been labeled a plus runner, turning in good 60 times, but it plays below that in game action, both in the field and on the basepaths. That, coupled with his fringy arm has resulted in his move to left field, where more of an onus will be placed on his bat. He has enough bat to make it in left field, but it makes him riskier overall as a prospect.
If you're the impatient type of fantasy owner, Nick Williams is not the prospect for you. He's hit well and the Rangers are rarely afraid to challenge their prospects, but there are some holes in his game that need addressing. That said, I picked him up in a 10 team AL-Only league with 30 man minor league systems, so I'm putting my money where my mouth is with Williams. He's got some developing to do, but he can really rake and there is power in that bat. If he can learn to control the strike zone a bit, he could be a heck of a hitter. Given his results since coming into the system and the strength of his offensive tools, I'm willing to wait and find out, are you?