Williams perfect at the plate in twinbill

Rangers prospect caps 7-for-7 day with homer in RoughRiders' sweep

Nick Williams has 94 hits and 45 runs scored in 84 Texas League games this year. (Shawn E. Davis/MiLB.com)

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | July 11, 2015 12:14 AM

You can be forgiven for being stunned by the performance Nick Williams put together on Friday. After he capped the evening with a home run, he was a bit surprised himself.

"I went in the dugout and said to my teammates, 'What is going on right now?,'" recalled the Rangers' No. 7 prospect.

Williams' dinger made him a perfect 7-for-7 with three runs scored, two RBIs and a hit-by-pitch during Double-A Frisco's doubleheader sweep at Northwest Arkansas.

In the RoughRiders' 6-2 win in the opener, Williams was 3-for-3 with a pair of runs scored and was plunked by a pitch from 25th-ranked Royals prospect Sam Selman. In the nightcap, a 5-0 blanking, he collected three singles before going yard in the seventh and final inning.

The 21-year-old outfielder has reached base in nine consecutive plate appearances. He had a two-hit game on Tuesday before Frisco was rained out Wednesday and Thursday. Mired in a 3-for-33 funk before that, Williams boosted his Texas League average to .295 and reminded himself to rely more on his fast hands.

"Especially when I had a minor little struggle, not striking out but trying to hit the ball too hard. I was getting a lot of groundouts, popouts," he said. "I had to kind of say, 'Let it get deep. Just trust in your hands. Be late if you have to.' I was more able to breathe today, I was extremely relaxed. I said, 'Let me see a strike.' I told my hitting coach [Jason Hart], 'I don't care what pitch it is, if it's up and it's a strike, I'm going to swing at it.'"

The two days off didn't hurt, either.

"It actually helped a lot, just to clear things off my mind and be off the field. It cleared my head," Williams said. 

The 2012 second-round pick is "extremely excited" to be on the Team USA roster for Sunday's Futures Game in Cincinnati. But after going 3-for-3 in Friday's opener, knowing he had more time away from the field coming up made him determined to get the most out of his at-bats in the second game.

"I just wanted to hit the ball on the barrel and stay consistent," he said. "I don't know how many innings I'm going to play in the Futures Game or how many at-bats I'm going to get. Everything counts, so I just wanted to feel good [in the batter's box]."

As the hits kept mounting, Williams wasn't focused on the fact that nobody could get him out Friday.

"I don't ever think that," he said. "I just think to myself, 'Stay comfortable and keep going. Keep grinding.'"

The solo shot was his ninth homer of the season and came on a 2-1 pitch from Mark Peterson. Williams said he didn't do anything differently in that at-bat.

"I just finally got a good fastball to hit," he said. "It was a good spot and it went right to the barrel. I thought he was going to throw all his stuff low or maybe walk me, but he came right after me."

Jose Leclerc, the Rangers' No. 19 prospect who's converting from reliever to starter this season, held the Naturals to four hits and a walk while striking out six over six innings in Game 2. The 21-year-old right-hander improved to 3-4 with a 4.87 ERA in . 

Bubba Starling, ranked 13th among Royals prospects, homered for Northwest Arkansas in the first game and doubled in the second.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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