Draft : : Top Prospects
Monday, March 05, 2012

Draft Focus: Nick Williams

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Perfect Game
Every weekday leading up to the 2012 MLB Draft, Perfect Game will be providing a scouting profile on a notable draft-eligible prospect.  Stay tuned to Perfect Game and be sure to visit the Draft Page for all of the latest info and reports pertaining to the draft.

Nick Williams Perfect Game profile

Position: OF
Height: 6-3
Weight: 195
Bats/Throws: L/L
Birthdate: September 8, 1993
High School: Galveston Ball
City, State: La Marque, Texas
Travel Team: Houston Banditos
Commitment: Texas
Projected Draft Round: 1, 1S

Nick Williams has been compared frequently to such legendary sluggers as Ken Griffey Jr. and Darryl Strawberry, but those are more out of a lack of a good comparable player than anything. There is a surprising shortage of players in the Major Leagues who are lean and athletic 6-foot-3 African-American left handed hitting/left handed throwing corner outfielders.

That’s not to say that Williams won’t play in the Major Leagues, as he certainly has the physical tools in virtually every area to reach that level. It’s just a strangely underpopulated demographic.

I admittedly jumped on the Strawberry comp the first time I saw Williams at the 2010 Area Code Games. One of the defining characteristics about Strawberry’s swing, aside from the fact he could hit the ball as far as anyone has in the game during the last 30-40 years, was that he was very willing to let the ball get deep in the zone, keep barrel of the bat behind his hands and drive the ball high and deep to left centerfield. Williams showed that ability at a young age, although he has become more pull conscious in the year and a half since then.

Aside from that, Strawberry’s almost unique combination of sheer size and athletic ability puts him in an area that discourages comparisons. There just aren’t many 6-foot-6 human beings capable of hitting big league level pitching and to compare a 6-foot-3 athlete to a 6-foot-6 one loses context.

The comparison to Griffey, along with potential comparison to Curtis Granderson, suffers because while Williams is physically gifted defensively, he does not project to play centerfield at the Major League level. He has run as low as 6.47 in the 60, but has the body type that will probably slow down a few steps as he starts to fill out more. Williams also has not shown the defensive instincts with jumps and routes that would normally be associated with centerfield. Williams does have a long and loose arm with solid Major League average arm strength that should enable him to play right field.

Where scouts can dream with Williams is with his left handed bat and power potential. If you were to look into the future and ask scouts, “There will be one high school player from the Class of 2012 who hits 40 home runs in one season, who is it?,” Williams would be on the very short list of candidates who could potentially accomplish that. His swing combines the bat speed along with the looseness, strength and extension through contact to lift the ball out of the park to any field.

Like many power oriented players, Williams is a streaky hitter who depends on timing and rhythm, and when he finds a zone everything is going to be flying off the barrel hard. He once hit four home runs in a game at the WWBA 16U National Championships, and has gone through streaks at national level events where he will go two or three days squaring it up every swing. At home run hitting contests Williams is known to hit multiple balls out in a row when he gets zeroed in. He will also go for multiple days against good pitching without a hit when his timing gets off and he’s consistently late on pitches while wearing out the foul territory behind third base.

Two things are notable in a positive way about Williams streakiness as a hitter, though: He has always shown the willingness to take pitches and work deep into counts, which will definitely help him during the inevitable slumps. He has also completely dominated high school pitching, as a hitter with his tools should, and hit .537-13-30 as a junior.

The depth of outfielders in the 2012 high school class who have potential first round tools and athleticism (Albert Almora, Lewis Brinson, Byron Buxton, David Dahl, Courtney Hawkins, Jesse Winker, Jameis Winston, and others) means that some will inevitably slide. Williams could be in that position, but for the right teams he might also have the highest ceiling of any his peers.

Even if finding the right comparison for him is difficult.

Perfect Game events attended:

    2010 WWBA 2011 Grads or 17u National Championship
    2010 WWBA 2012 Grads or 16u National Championship
    2010 WWBA World Championship
    2011 National Showcase
    2011 WWBA 2012 Grads or 17u National Championship
    2011 Perfect Game All-American Classic Presented by Rawlings
    2011 WWBA South Qualifier
    2011 WWBA World Championship

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