March 14, 2017
CLEARWATER, Fla. – In the last three days, some high profile prospects have departed Phillies’ camp.
Reading home run heroes Rhys Hoskins and Dylan Cozens will be hitting their next home runs in minor league camp, not Spectrum Field. Mark Appel’s path from No.1 overall pick to major league mound will take its next step on the four field of the Carpenter Complex within the next week.
But not all of the prospects are gone. J.P. Crawford is still in big league camp, and Roman Quinn and Jorge Alfaro, too.
Oh, and Nick Williams. And it may be time to start paying attention to the outfield prospect that many people forgot after a rough first full season in the Phillies’ farm system.
Williams, one of the five prospects the Phillies received in the Cole Hamels' trade, entered Tuesday’s Grapefruit League game against the Atlanta Braves hitting .364 (8-for-22) with a double, a home run, and five RBI while also going 2-for-2 in stolen base attempts.
But what he’s done in over a little over the last 24 hours has been … something.
In the eighth inning of Monday’s game in Sarasota against the Baltimore Orioles, Nick Williams hit a home run and also took one away from Logan Schafer. And there are no words that can do the latter any justice, so, just watch:
(hat tip to @FelskeFiles for locating that video, a highlight no one could find yesterday).
Perhaps we're burying the lede here. Nick Williams has also walked twice in today’s game in Clearwater.
Why is that notable, you ask?
Because plate discipline has been one of Williams’ largest flaws as a prospect. He has just one walk in his last 46 games of the 2016 season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley (while striking out 54 times in 182 at-bats).
This spring? Williams has four walks and five strikeouts in 13 games.
"(Hitting coach) Matt Stairs has been working on his approach, to soften his approach instead of jumping out after the ball," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He seems to be showing improvement."
Apparently, that early work last month with Matt Stairs has paid off. If Williams takes this into next month at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the Phillies will almost have to find room for him in their lineup before Memorial Day (ala Tommy Joseph last year).