PHOENIX—One of the breakout stars of the Area Code Games, toolsy, athletic outfielder Tyler Williams (Kellis HS, Glendale, Ariz.) has built on that performance at the Arizona Senior Fall Classic, impacting the baseball consistently on Friday.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Williams is a power-speed threat with baseball bloodlines whose skills are beginning to catch up to his immense tools and considerable ceiling.
The righthanded hitter went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles on Friday. He sent a screaming, hard-hit line drive to left field that was one of the hardest-hit balls of the day in his first plate appearance, and then hit a double into the left-center field gap before flying out to left and beating out an infield single, running 4.27 to first. Williams has a quick stroke with bat speed and natural strength from a deep load. Scouts can dream on Williams’ power potential because of his bat speed, strength and body.
Williams is a power-speed threat with one of the best bodies of any position player in the prep class. He is a perfect example of a player scouts notice “getting off the bus.” He has a large frame and extremely broad, sloped shoulders that have drawn comparisons from scouts to Claudell Washington and Dave Winfield. He has a broad, muscular chest and tapered torso leading to a high, trim waist and powerful lower half. Williams also has long extremities with large hands and feet.
“I am understanding my body a little bit better,” Williams said. “Not only that, I know what I need to do to get the results I want.”
Williams’ summer started with subpar showings at Perfect Game National and the Tournament of Stars, when he swung and missed frequently (40 percent of his swings at PG National), going 2-for-16 (.125/.125/.250) between the two events with seven strikeouts (41 percent strikeout rate). But Williams was coming back from an injury and had less than a week to prepare for those events after being cleared to return to baseball activities.
“I broke my hand playing baseball with nine games left in the season,” Williams said. “I tried to get myself ready for PG National and for TOS. I should have not done it but I am glad that I did it basically humbled me playing against the top-tier guys. I needed to be 100 percent and give 100 percent because if I don't I will just be a guy on the bench.”
He began to hit his stride at the Area Code Games as the quality of his at-bats improved and he made contact more frequently. He collected four hits, including one of the most memorable batted balls of any hitter at the event when he hit a broken-bat double that kept on going because of his bat speed and sheer physical strength. It ended up one-hopping the wall in left center at Blair Field.
“I have heard a lot about Blair Field and how tough it is to hit home runs there,” Williams said. “At first when I hit it I thought I hit it out and then when it exploded I thought ‘thanks a lot, dad, for getting me this bat.’ I am still happy I was able to get that hit.”
Williams has at least plus speed as a powerful, long-striding runner whose speed really plays underway and gives him the potential to remain in center field with closing speed into the gaps. He has a below-average arm that will likely fit best in left field if he goes to a corner. He ran the fourth-best time at the Tournament of Stars (6.53) and the sixth-lowest at PG National (6.54). While his run times have been slightly inconsistent, his speed also plays out of the box, posting plus-plus times at his best (4.10 at the Area Code Games) and above-average times others.
Williams was a key member of Kellis High’s state champion track team as a freshman, running the final leg of the 4×100 relay that tied a school record at 41.90 seconds. He is tied for third all-time in school history in the long jump (21 feet 7.7 inches) and fifth in the 100 meters (11.04).
Williams will not be playing basketball this offseason in order to get on a strict workout routine for baseball. Despite his present physicality, Williams has never lifted weights or worked out, which could increase his already-high ceiling.
“I have been going to a place to rehab for my shoulder since I hurt it in Raleigh,” Williams said. “We did cardio there a little bit. But up to this point I haven't done any workouts. I used to do push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups when I was younger but I haven't done it in a long time and I need to start up. I really want to focus on baseball because it is my senior year. This is a make or break season for me.”
The 17-year-old Williams plays with tremendous passion and intensity and as much hustle as any other player on the field, sprinting everywhere. Williams nearly always has a big smile across his face while on the baseball field. His makeup, personality and passion have endeared him to scouts, who love the way he plays the game. He is the son of Ted Williams, the Minnesota Twins Four Corners area scout, former minor leaguer and one of the most well-respected scouts in the area.
“I have grown up in a baseball family home and basically my father has taught me to do what you love because it could only last for a short amount of time,” Williams. “I try my best to not be made at myself even though I still do. I try to have fun with what I am doing right now so that I don't have any regrets in the future.”
Tyler is the oldest child in his family and his two younger brothers are in the grade directly below him and only 20 months separates their birthdays. The twins, Justin and Jordan, also are playing for the Diamondbacks Elite Scout Team in Peoria and constitute one-third of the Kellis lineup with Tyler in center field, Justin at third base and Jordan in left field.
“It is very fun competing against one another to see who got the most hits and stolen bases,” Williams said. “But it’s also fun to get together and set goals for ourselves as a unit. It is really fun.”