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Mason Williams Waits For His Turn



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Mason Williams (Photo by David Schofield).[/caption]

NEW YORK—General manager Brian Cashman announced in early January that the big league roster was set and no major additions were planned. That meant 25-year-old Mason Williams’ slim chances of making the team out of spring training became miniscule.

Had Cashman traded left fielder Brett Gardner it would have created, at worst, an opening for the fourth-outfielder spot if Aaron Hicks had replaced Gardner.

Barring injury to an outfielder, Williams will open the season as the starting center fielder at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because he has one minor league option remaining. Clint Frazier, whom New York acquired from the Indians in the Andrew Miller deal last July, will play a corner-outfield post.

Williams has been overshadowed by other young position players in the system, foremost among them Gary Sanchez, the 24-year-old catcher. Aaron Judge, the 2013 first-round pick who is 25, is the presumptive right fielder, while shortstop Glyeber Torres, whom the Yankees acquired from the Cubs for Aroldis Chapman at last year’s trade deadline, could advance quickly.

Williams’ ascent has been slowed by injuries. He had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in August 2015 and didn’t return to the field until July 2, 2016. Williams played in 43 minor league games—he batted .298/.315/.380—prior to a September callup.

"He is a well above-average defender in center field with a potential average hit-and-plate-discipline profile moving forward,” Cashman said of Williams, a 2010 fourth-round pick from high school in Winter Garden, Fla.

"His hard-working reputation has carried forward this winter.”

If Judge doesn’t hit and Hicks replaces him in right field, then it’s possible Williams, who bats lefthanded, could become the fourth outfielder. He has used his speed to steal at least 20 bases in three of his seven pro seasons.

YANKEE DOODLES

The Yankees signed 25-year-old South Korean first baseman Ji-Man Choi to a minor league deal. He elected free agency from the Angels in January following an outright assignment. Choi hit five home runs in 57 big league games last year and owns a career .304/.399/.446 line in parts of four seasons at Triple-A.

• Luis Sojo and Nick Ortiz will manage the Yankees’ two affiliates in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

Mason-Williams-2014-ds

Yankees Top 10 Prospects

OF Mason Williams is the No. 1 prospect.

— George King covers the Yankees for the New York Post

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