FORT MYERS, Fla.—JaDamion Williams had a rough season in 2012, a step back in his progress through the Twins system.
After hitting .324/.406/.465 with Rookie-level Elizabethton in 2011, the speedy outfielder batted just .234/.311/.340 at low Class A Beloit. He struck out 115 times and drew just 39 walks in 97 games.
It was a taxing year, so the Twins decided to send him on a trip, let him get away from his troubles.
But this was no vacation.
“We decided to send him to Jason Pospishil,” vice president Mike Radcliff said of the ex-Twin turned hitting instructor. “So we flew him to Australia to let Jason help him refine his game.”
The Twins are one of the major league organizations that utilizes Australia’s fledgling professional league as an alternative to Caribbean winter leagues, because with similar food and language, it’s less of an adjustment for most Americans. And the Twins already know Pospishil, who managed their Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team last year.
Williams, the son of former major league outfielder Reggie Williams, has relied on his athleticism to get by since the Twins selected him in the 10th round of the 2010 draft out of Brooks-DeBartolo High in Tampa.
“He’s got great athleticism, all the tools, but less skill right now. He’s still a bit of a project,” Radcliff said. “We wanted to sort of force-feed him some at-bats, so he can move forward.”
Williams, 22, hit just .218/.281/.278 in 133 at-bats with the Sydney Blue Sox, but the Twins have been thrilled with the results he has shown this spring.
“It looks like a lot of nice things happened,” Radcliff said. “His swing looks shorter. He’s more direct to the ball. He’s got confidence. There’s just a different feel to his game now.”
• Five weeks after spring camp opened, Deibinson Romero still had not reported. The 26-year-old infielder, added to the 40-man roster last winter and set to attend his first major league camp, was delayed by new paperwork requirements in the Dominican Republic, an unexpected hurdle that the Twins said was not Romero’s fault.
• Righthander Deolis Guerra was hospitalized for two days in Fort Myers, then airlifted to Tampa, after doctors discovered a blood clot in his pitching shoulder, which had prevented him from pitching for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Guerra, 23, had surgery to have the first rib from his right side removed, in order to give the artery more room and prevent future clots. Guerra is expected to miss at least three months of the season.