Making More Contact Is Next Step For Rays’ Carson Williams


Standing along the first base line at Tropicana Field prior to a late September game, Carson Williams reflected on what he has to do to join the players in the dugout.

Hit better.

Or at least more consistently.

Specifically, the 20-year-old shortstop must lower his strikeout rate, which registered near 32% at High-A Bowling Green this season.

“That’s exactly what I wanted to work on. And I did it to my standards very well,’’ Williams said. “I mean, my at-bats were so much better. You don’t go from swing-and-miss to barrels.

“So I went from swing-and-miss to fouling off barrels and putting the ball in play. So that’s a huge step for me.’’

Drafted 28th overall in 2021 out of high school in San Diego, Williams is one of the best defensive shortstop prospects in baseball. He was at the Trop to receive his second consecutive award as the Rays’ top minor league defender.

Williams headed to the Arizona Fall League to put in more work on making contact. He said asking questions of Rays minor league players and coaches has been helpful for molding himself into the player he wants to be.

Williams has flexed plenty of muscle in the batter’s box. He hit 19 home runs for Low-A Charleston in 2022 and added 23 more this year while hitting .258/.356/.497 in 115 games, most of them in High-A.

Cutting down on his strikeouts could be the last piece.

“That’s my biggest area (for improvement), just becoming a better hitter as a whole,’’ Williams said. “I want to swing at the right pitches. I want to get to the right counts. And I’m just working on my approach.’’

The Rays are pleased with what they’ve seen.

“We’re all pretty much in agreement on the things he does really, really well,” Rays farm director Jeff McLerran said, “and then the one thing he’s got to work on, which is the contact.”

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