Reports on Wednesday evening indicate that the Texas Rangers will acquire veteran starter Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies for a package of prospects. Although not all the prospect names are in as this article is published, outfield prospect Nick Williams is said to be involved.
I have been fortunate enough to speak with Williams and see him play several times. Here are my thoughts along with an interview.
Drafted in the second round from a Texas high school in 2012, Nick Williams is a superior athlete who has always been considered raw in many aspects of his game. Watching him almost daily, Nick Williams hits for average, he hits for power, he has great pitch recognition, 70 speed and a strong arm. There is nothing he cannot do on the field. The only remaining question leading in to this season was his approach at the plate.
I recently spent some time with Nick and he offered our readers some great insight into his 2015 season with the Frisco Roughriders and the Futures Game. I also spoke with hitting coach Jason Hart as to what he sees in his 2015 development and the future talent unfolding before our eyes.
This is what the success (.300/.357/.480) in his first 96 games for Frisco in 2015 means to him:
"It feels great. I knew who I was as a player and I know a lot of people do, but there is always going to be people who think differently. A lot of people it turned out on me but I just play my game. I feel like I don’t really have anything to prove to people as my game proves everything now. So I just go out every day and have fun. Keep my smile. As far as sportswriters and what they might say, I don’t care about that stuff anymore. When you play better than the guys around you (at your league level) I feel I made it."
For two years now Nick has been the focus of possible trades. His name is mentioned in just about every reported trade with the Texas Rangers and especially this week.
"It’s funny that you say that because this past Spring training I was really worried about it. I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t eat. I was bothered by it going into the season and was really nervous about being traded mostly because Texas is my home state but then I say I can’t control it. Hopefully it doesn’t happen you know."
The Texas Rangers this month rewarded Nick with his first Futures All Star Game selection. I asked him about his experience at the game and what he thought of the Texas Rangers selecting him:
"This is the best honor of my career honestly from probably grade school till now. Now especially because our minor leagues are loaded and the fact the Rangers put me here is just a great feeling."
"My experience at Futures Game it was awesome. I got to see a lot of guys I played with in the Fall League that were on the other side like the Northern League that I never get to see and it was cool to be around players like that. It was just cool to be around the best players in minor league baseball."
When asked what Texas Rangers fans can expect when he reaches Arlington:
"Just a player that plays hard at it. Fans are always going to see me smiling. My favorite player growing up was Ken Griffey Jr. I just can relate to him. I probably won’t ever accomplish what he did but I try to. He’s just a guy that’s happy, plays with a passion and a great player. "
There is one man that has been around Nick Williams daily since August 2014. That man is former Texas Ranger and current hitting coach Jason Hart. He has seen first hand the progress he has made since he arrived in Frisco. Here is his take on Nick:
"Nick has improved a ton this year especially in the mental part of the game. He’s developed a plan and approach at the plate. Amazing talent. There are things, that if you come out to watch him play, you could see something you’ve never seen before. A 98 mile an hour fastball up and away and spank it over the left field wall for example. Nick is a raw talent, great athlete that just keeps getting better every day."
I think at this point we can put to rest any skeptics that Nick Williams may have left. His current 2015 line through 96 games is additional proof: .300 batting average, 13 home runs and an OBP of .357. He will be a success on and off the field with any major league club that he may play. If you haven't seen Nick Williams play up until now, your time will come soon at a major league park near you!