Thrill Of Hitting Drew Phils’ Williams

SEE ALSO: Top 100 Prospects PHILADELPHIANick Williams’ first love was football. He was a good enough high school player in Galveston, Texas, to attract interest as a receiver from several top college programs. So why is Williams now one of the most exciting prospects in a restocked Phillies’ system, ranking No. 27 overall in The Top 100 Prospects?

“Hitting is, I think, what kept me out of football,” the 6-foot-3, 200-pound outfielder said. “Football is what I wanted to do. I wanted to be in the NFL. But hitting a baseball—there’s just something about it. I love defense, too. I love taking hits away and making ‘wow’ plays. But there’s something about hitting. Get a good hit, it’s like, ‘All right, I won this battle with the pitcher.’ I think of it as competition with the other team’s pitching.” Williams, who turned 22 in September, was part of the Phillies’ haul in the deal that sent Cole Hamels to Texas in July. The second-round pick in 2012 improved his plate discipline and hit .303/.354/.491 with 17 homers and 55 RBIs in 119 games at Double-A last season. He will move to Triple-A in 2016 and is expected to be joined, at least at some point in the season, by a bevy of prospects that includes shortstop J.P. Crawford, catchers Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfaro and righthanders Jake Thompson, Mark Appel and Zach Eflin. This group will be in big league spring training camp and could be ready for Philadelphia in a year. “Everything came together for Nick last year,” farm director Joe Jordan said. “In talking with him, I think he got to the point where he trusted his ability, didn’t force it and let the game come to him. He was terrific in August. We’re looking forward to getting him back in uniform and going again.” The plan is for Williams to play center field and left field at Triple-A. Williams bonded quickly with the Phillies’ other young prospects and believes the rebuild could move quickly. “It just feels right,” he said. “I’m almost positive that we’re going to be good in the next few years. There’s too much talent.” PHIL-UPS • Power-armed righthander Alberto Tirado, acquired from the Blue Jays in July, will be used as a starter in 2016. He pitched 40 games in relief in the high Class A Florida State League last year. • The Phillies will field two teams in the Dominican Summer League this year, a result of the Venezuelan Summer League’s shutdown.

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