Nick Williams is now in the Cincinnati Reds 60-man player pool (which currently sits at 59 players). Cincinnati claimed him off of waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday afternoon and sent him to the Prasco Park roster.

Drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 2nd round of the 2012 Major League Baseball draft, Nick Williams eventually rose the prospect rankings and was twice in the Baseball America Top 100 (following the 2013 and the 2015 seasons), peaking as the #27 prospect in baseball after that 2015 campaign. That year he began in Double-A Frisco with the Rangers organization where he hit .299/.357/.479 in 97 games. But he was a part of a trade deadline deal that year as was moved with five other players in a deal for Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman. Williams finished out that year with Double-A Reading and hit .320/.340/.536 in 22 games.

Following that year he was the #2 prospect in the Phillies organization. Here’s a part of the write up from the 2016 Prospect Handbook from Baseball America on Williams:

Since his raw amateur days, Williams has made incredible strides. He still boasts well above-average bat speed as well as one of most skilled sets of hands in the minor leagues. Though Williams is criticized for playing too deep and for a wandering sense of effort in the outfield, nobody questions his raw ability. With a few adjustments, he could easily stay in center field over the long term. If he does have to move to a corner, his plus throwing arm makes right field a viable option. He’s a true five-tool player whose ceiling will be determined by how hard he works. While Williams missed 11 days late in the season with a concussion sustained in an outfield collision, he returned to hit three home runs over eight games in the Eastern League playoffs. He should move up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to start 2016, with a spot in Philly there for the taking when he’s ready.

In 2016 he did move up to Lehigh Valley, and he spent the entire year there. Things didn’t go as well as anyone had hoped for as he hit .258/.287/.427 during the season with just 19 walks in 125 games, and he struck out 136 times. Williams showed off good power, particularly for a 22-year-old in Triple-A as he hit 33 doubles, 6 triples, and 13 home runs. His poor walk rate, however doomed his offensive value. He rebounded the next season, hitting .280/.328/.511 in Triple-A and then .288/.338/.473 in the Major Leagues in 83 games with the Phillies.

Now, looking back at the scouting report following that 2015 season, we see a few things worth talking about. The first is that he’s not a great defender, but had the raw tools that could make him a good one in the future. While there are some issues with the various defensive metrics one can look at, they all describe Nick Williams as a poor defender. From 2017-2019 he graded out at -18 outs above average according to Statcast, ranking 143rd out of 165 outfielders who had at least 250 opportunities in that span.

Those tools remained tools, it would appear, rather than develop into skills. And while there was talk that he could possibly remain in center, that didn’t happen in the Major Leagues where he’s only started 12 games out of his 194 starts. Even in Triple-A over the last few seasons he’s seen more time in the corners than in center.

At the plate there are some things to like. There is some power in his bat, though he’s not going to be confused for a 30-homer guy. And he has had some success hitting in the Major Leagues, posting a 105 OPS+ between the 2017 and 2018 season. But his low walk rate is a problem that could, and has kept him from getting the most out of his bat. From 2017-2019 there were 309 players in the Major Leagues who had at least 750 plate appearances. Williams chased pitches out of the zone more than 282 of those players. It’s not impossible to hit well while expanding the zone a lot, it’s a lot tougher to do. Whether it’s because he struggles to identify pitches quick enough, or simply that he believes he can hit them – cutting down on how often he expands the strikezone is something he’s going to need to do in order to get more from his hitting abilities.

Here’s a look at the up to date Prasco Park roster for the Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds Prasco Park Roster

R.J Alaniz RHP Mark Kolozsvary C
Jesse Biddle LHP Francisco Peña C
David Carpenter RHP Tyler Stephenson C
José De León RHP Alex Blandino INF
Brandon Finnegan LHP Jose Garcia INF
Hunter Greene RHP Robel García INF
Ryan Hendrix RHP Rece Hinds INF
Joel Kuhnel RHP Jonathan India INF
Nick Lodolo LHP Alfredo Rodriguez INF
Alex Powers RHP Aristides Aquino OF
Sal Romano RHP Stuart Fairchild OF
Tony Santillan RHP TJ Friedl OF
Mark Payton OF
Boog Powell OF
Nick Williams OF

6 Responses

  1. DaveCT

    There’s some OF talent at Prasco, isn’t there? It’s pretty clear.

  2. James K

    Did the Reds have to make room on the 40-player roster?

    • Doug Gray

      They did not. There are 41 players on the 40-man, but Matt Bowman doesn’t count against the 40-man since he’s on the 45-day injured list – so for accounting purposes, they are at 40.

  3. RojoBenjy

    Phillies fans I talk to like this player. I have no complaints.

    If the Reds positive player is the starting CF, then adding capable depth there is good.