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FSL notes: Williams in midseason form

Tampa outfielder picks up where he left off after 2012 injury
April 17, 2013

Mason Williams missed the final six weeks of last season after dislocating his left shoulder diving for a ball in center field during a game at Tampa, but the resulting surgery didn't set the New York Yankees' No. 2 prospect back.

In fact, the 21-year-old feels that it was just the opposite.

"My shoulder had been bothering me for a while. It has popped out before," said Williams, ranked as baseball's No. 41 prospect by "I was glad to get it taken care off and move on."

The center fielder had surgery to tighten the labrum of his non-throwing shoulder within a couple weeks of the injury and, after a couple of months with his arm in a sling, began getting ready for this season.

"There was a lot of downtime, but I was ready to go by the start of Spring Training," Williams said.

The fourth-round pick in the 2010 Draft showed that there would be no catching up to do, going 6-for-16 in the first four games of the season for Tampa. He cooled off a little after that, but was batting .286 with a .400 on-base percentage in 11 games through Monday.

If Williams had been able to play all of the second half in the Class A Advanced Florida State League a year ago, he might have had a chance to start this season in the Double-A Eastern League.

The left-handed hitter, though, isn't thinking about what could have been.

"I don't look at it as trying to make up for lost time," he said of getting off to a good start this season. "I'm just taking it game by game and trying to work on things to get better."

The New York Yankees gave Williams a bonus of $1.45 million to pass up a scholarship to South Carolina after graduating from West Orange High School outside Orlando, and it looks like money well spent.

The once-skinny six-footer has muscled up to nearly 200 pounds and took an average of .317 for 164 Minor League games into this season.

"I've worked hard to get stronger," said Williams, who batted .349 over 68 games for Staten Island of the New York-Penn League in 2011 and was hitting .304 in 69 games for Charleston of the South Atlantic League when promoted to Tampa at midseason last year.

Williams had a .277 average in 22 games as Tampa's leadoff hitter when sidelined last year and is back at that spot in the lineup this season.

"I don't know what might happen later, but I like batting leadoff," said Williams, who drew eight walks in his first 11 games and had two stolen bases.

Williams' father, Derwin, played for three years in the NFL as a wide receiver with the New England Patriots, so he comes by his speed naturally.

The younger Williams played football as well as basketball through his freshman year of high school, but baseball was always his sport. So much so, in fact, that the family moved to Florida from Rhode Island when Mason was 13 with baseball in mind.

"I really appreciate what they did," he said. "I don't think I'd be where I am as a player without that."

His parents can make the hour drive from Winter Garden to Tampa a couple times a week to see him play, but that doesn't mean he wants to stay in the Florida State League any longer than necessary.

Williams has already got a brief taste of the Majors, even if it was just in Spring Training. He was 2-for-4 with an RBI in 2011 and 1-for-2 with a double and two RBIs this spring.

"When I walked into the clubhouse, my eyes got big, and I just tried to take it all in," said the .500 Grapefruit League hitter. "I think I'll always remember those hits."

The Yankees, though, are counting on many more hits to come.

In Brief

Red-hot start: Top-ranked Minnesota prospect Miguel Sano has been a big part of Fort Myers' team-record 12-0 start to the season. He was hitting .413 with four doubles, four homers and 12 RBIs through Tuesday. The 19-year-old had a trio of three-hit games and hit a grand slam in Tuesday's 7-4 victory over Palm Beach. The third baseman is ranked No. 12 among's Top 100 Prospects. The native of the Dominican Republic had 28 homers and 100 RBIs last season for Beloit in the Class A Midwest League.

Good and bad: Unlike fellow Chicago Cubs prospect Jorge Soler, who was hitting .435 when suspended five games by the Florida State League for brandishing a bat at the Clearwater dugout April 10, shortstop Javier Baez got off to a slow start at the plate for Daytona. He was 4-for-30 before going 4-for-12 with three extra-base hits in a series at Tampa on April 12-14. Baez, 20, is rated as the Cubs' No. 1 prospect by and is No. 16 on the Top 100 list. He was hitting .170 in 11 games through Monday.

Turnaround: Center fielder James Ramsey was 3-for-6 with a triple, a double and two RBIs in Palm Beach's opening doubleheader against Charlotte on April 5 and was batting .429 with an on-base percentage of .538 and slugging mark of .690 after 12 games. He had seven extra-base hits and scored 12 runs. Ramsey hit just .229 in 56 games for Palm Beach last season after being St. Louis' second first-round pick (No. 23 overall) in the 2012 Draft out of Florida State.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to