The Philadelphia Phillies are promoting outfield prospect Nick Williams for his first big league opportunity this weekend.
The promotion for Williams comes as a direct response to left fielder Howie Kendrick being placed on the Disabled List. The hamstring injury disables the nearly 34-year old for a second time already this season. Kendrick previously was out of the lineup from mid-April through the end of May.
The Phillies also recently released outfielder Michael Saunders. A legitimate argument can be made that the additions of Saunders and Kendrick this past off-season were wastes of time and money.
However, others will say that the two signings did the job. The veterans bought a couple of months while prospects such as Williams “percolated” in the minor leagues. That may turn out to be the case in the long run. Time will tell.
For now, extremely frustrated Phillies fans will get to watch one of the hyped prospects perform each night.
Williams came to the Phils from the Texas Rangers as part of the big Cole Hamels trade back in the summer of 2015. He becomes the fifth piece of that trade to reach the big leagues. Alec Asher, Jerad Eickhoff, Jorge Alfaro, and Jake Thompson have previously made their debut from that deal.
At the time of his promotion, Williams was hitting for a .277/.326/.511 slash line for the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The 23-year old ripped 15 homers and had 33 extra-base hits. He produced 44 rbi, and scored 43 runs in 302 plate appearances this season. Williams also has five stolen bases.
INCREASED MATURITY LEADS TO MEASURABLE RESULTS
There was an opportunity last season for Williams to force his way into the big league picture. However, the lefty hitter struggled in the minors. Maturity issues played a big part in his troubles.
But this season, Williams has demonstrated increased maturity in every facet of his game and attitude. That was demonstrated in a game earlier this month. He quickly snapped out of a brief funk that would have turned into a major slump a year ago.
IronPigs manager Dusty Wathan was quoted by Tom Housenick of The Morning Call after that June 11 game:
“Once he matured and learned that it doesn’t do him any good to make excuses, … that’s where he’s at now. He got another opportunity and said, ‘let’s do something about it.’ We’ve seen a lot of that lately. His first two at-bats weren’t great. In the past, there’s an 0-for-4. Instead, he turned it around and got two big hits.”
Williams will not be expected to become a savior for this current Phillies team. He cannot turn around this miserable 2017 season on his own.
What Williams does represent to long-suffering Phillies fans is hope. It marks another step forward in the rebuilding program. Hopefully he experiences some immediate and then sustained success. And hopefully his promotion is just the first of a few in the coming weeks.