563 PA .223/.290/.304 8.3% BB% 12.1% K% 21/29 SB +0 DEF
Oh, how Williams has fallen. Once one of the better prospects in the game, Mason has taken a tumble in the past couple of years. Selected in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Williams quickly burst onto prospect lists after a superb 2011 campaign with Staten Island in Short-Season A-Ball. That year, Williams posted a sky-high .349/.395/.468 triple-slash (149 wRC+) with 28 stolen bases. Baseball America ranked him the 85th best prospect in baseball afterward. In 2012, Williams impressed yet again between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, earning him the 32nd spot from the same publication. Since then, it’s been downhill. Williams was completely overmatched in a second turn at High-A in 2013, and predictably struggled in a cameo at Double-A Trenton that year too.
Last year was more of the same for the 23 year-old center fielder. Spending a full season with Trenton, Mason was a non-factor offensively. His atrocious batting line (see top) translated to a 66 wRC+, which understandably is pushing him closer to becoming a non-prospect. If you’re a glass half-full kind of person, there are a couple of positives to glean from 2014. He made a lot of contact (12.1% strikeout rate) and stole a lot of bases (21). Otherwise, it was pretty ugly offensively.
What Kiley McDaniel says:
I’ve been watching Williams for years and he looked like a future stud in Low-A in 2012. He was a 70 runner with 50 raw power that just needed to get a little more patience to unlock his offensive potential. Since then, Williams has tinkered with his swing, battled nagging injuries and lost confidence along with adding some bulk so he’s now a 60 runner. He still profiles in center field and the Yankees think he’s found a swing that works for him, with a closed stance, but he’ll always be more aggressive at the plate and now is just an average defender. Right now, you’re hoping for a offensive breakthrough that can tap into his tools and produce a 4th outfielder.
What KATOH says:
Unsurprisingly, KATOH is a doubter. The only saving graces for Williams, which are preventing this projection from perhaps being near zero, are his strikeout rate and stolen base percentage*. Those two metrics are some of the most predictive statistics of future success for players in Double-A. Unfortunately for Williams, so are walk rate, isolated power, and BABIP. Simply put, the former fourth-rounder has had no luck in those categories. Hence, the 2.1 WAR forecast through age-28.
*SB% = (SB+CS) / (Singles + Walks + HBP)
Mason was just added to the 40-man roster this winter, so he still has some time to redeem himself before the Yankees run out of options. Then again, if he plays like he did last season, the team might cut bait sooner. For this season in particular, Williams is getting his start at Double-A, the third consecutive year he’s spent time at the level. Hopefully, in another stint with the Thunder, Williams can rediscover some of the offensive shine he displayed a few years ago. However, Mason has been shifted from his primary position, center field, to left field. Jake Cave (#15) is the starter at the position and has clearly taken a step ahead of Mason in scouts eyes (statistically, too). That speaks a lot to what the Yankees currently think of Mason.