Mar 15, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers outfielder Nick Williams slaps hands with a bat boy after hitting a home run in the ninth inningagainst the Oakland Athletics at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. The Rangers won 16-15. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Texas born and raised in Galveston Texas, outfielder Nick Williams has been on scouts’ radars for a long time. Going into the 2012 draft, Williams’ potential was obvious to most scouts. However, Nick Williams dropped all the way to the Texas Rangers in the second round because scouts dinged him for his poor performance in his senior season at Ball High School in Galveston. Also Nick dropped because of criticisms of his lack of instincts on the bases and inability to make contact at the plate. He has a lanky 6’3″ frame and weighs in at about 195 pounds. Hitting from the left side of the plate, Nick generates plenty of power and now is praised for his hit tool and ability to make contact and drive the ball to all parts of the field.
Nick Williams might have the best combination of hit and power tools in the Rangers system right now. He uses his quick hands to create excellent bat speed and consistently makes solid contact. Even though Nick Williams currently has solid power, his home run totals will only increase when he starts to fill out his tall frame.
In his first year of professional baseball, Nick was sent to the Rangers’ Arizona rookie league where he hit .317/.375/.448 with his 224 plate appearances. This solid performance was greatly overshadowed by his teammate Joey Gallo breaking the league record in homers with 18, Williams hit two. Hickory was the destination for Nick Williams in 2013. With a group of impressive moon shot mashers, Williams led the regulars batting .293 and also slugged an impressive .543. Nick Williams also added to that 19 doubles, 12 triples, and 17 homers. Those 17 bombs were 3rd on the team behind only Joey Gallo and Ryan Rua.
Though his other tools are average, Nick Williams will go as far as his bat will carry him. In 13 tries last year, Nick had 8 steals. His speed does not show very well on the base paths but with work, he could be a solid base runner eventually. His arm strength is the main facet of his game that is lacking. He will likely stay in left field during his career but does currently possess the range to play center field.
There is some variety of opinions on where Nick Williams fits in the ranks of Rangers prospects. The Lone Star Baseball community for SB Nation ranks Williams as the 7th best Rangers prospect, Kieth Law of ESPN has him ranked 8th on his Rangers top 10, and MLB.com has yet to post their top 20 list for the Rangers this year but last year had Williams ranked 17th. Also Kate Morrison of WFAA Sports had him ranked 4th. After Nick Williams’ two homer performance on Saturday I felt confident about having him in my top ten.
If he makes it to the show, Nick Williams projects to be a solid defensive left fielder who could hit .300 and blast 30 homers on a consistent year in year out basis. The Rangers staff is very excited about this kid, and with good reason. I see him starting out this year at advanced A with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the Carolina League.
The main concern for me at this point with Nick Williams is that he needs to decrease his strikeouts totals and increase his walk rate. Lat year at Hickory Nick only managed 15 walks to 110 strikeouts. With the quality hitting instructors the Rangers have in their minor league system I don’t foresee that being an issue. If you are looking for a major league comparison, look to Cardinal’s left fielder Matt Holiday. He averages 25 home runs per season and has a career average of .311.
Scouting Grades: Hit: 65 Power: 60 Run: 50 Arm: 40 Field: 50