Williams belts three homers for Montgomery

Tampa Bay's No. 10 prospect matches career best with six RBIs

Justin Williams' three-homer game was the second in Montgomery franchise history. (Ed Gardner/MiLB.com)

By Tyler Maun / MiLB.com | August 31, 2017 2:43 AM

Three times Justin Williams walked to the plate Wednesday night after an opposing pitcher put himself in a perilous spot. Three times, Williams made his opponents' night worse.

Tampa Bay's No. 10 prospect belted three long balls in the first multi-homer game of his career and matched a personal best with six RBIs as Double-A Montgomery beat Mobile, 8-4.

"I just think Dalton Kelly having really good at-bats put the pressure on me to lock in," Williams said of his first baseman, one spot ahead of him in the lineup. "When you've got a guy in front of you who locks in and has a good at-bat, it puts pressure on you to go up there and have one."

Video: Biscuits' Williams slugs three homers

Kelly and Williams started their pattern of productivity in the bottom of the second inning when Kelly worked a leadoff walk against Mobile starter Luis Pena and Williams followed by pummeling a homer to left field. Two innings later, the pair did it again with Williams backing Kelly's leadoff free pass from Pena with a shot to right-center. In the seventh, Kelly earned a walk off Mobile reliever and Kevin Grendell, the No. 30 Angels prospect, before Williams tattooed another dinger to left.

Following the second three-homer game in Biscuits franchise history -- and the first since Tyler Goeddel's three solo shots on July 30, 2015 -- Williams deferred the credit.

"Dalton got up there and worked at-bats," he said. "Once he gets up there and works an at-bat, it puts pressure on a pitcher like, 'I have to try to get ahead with this guy.' It puts pressure on him to throw me some fastballs over the plate, something I can handle.

2017 Minor League milestones

"You could kind of see the frustration in the pitchers. Knowing that, they're going to try to get ahead the next batter for sure. They don't want to walk two guys back to back."

Williams sported 11 home runs on the year before his power show. After tying the six-RBI night he posted on July 26, the 22-year-old was pleased with his ability to barrel balls in different locations over the plate.

Gameday box score

"Two of them were middle-in, and I just stayed inside of the ball," he said. "One was kind of up and away and I just stayed on it. It feels good just staying on balls and not spinning off balls. I'm simplifying my swing and not trying to do too much, just trying to find the barrel."

Williams is nearing the end of his first full Double-A season and the first time in his five-year professional career that he's stayed at one level throughout an entire campaign. The 22-year-old got a sneak peek at Double-A last year when he played 39 games for the Biscuits, batting .250/.277/.446 with six homers and 28 RBIs. That advance look prepared the outfielder for a season in which he's batted .303/.367/.500 through 91 contests.

MiLB include

"Pitchers are a lot smarter," he said of Double-A. "They have an idea on how they want to get you out and stick to that plan until you prove them otherwise. That's what I noticed when I got here last year. I went into the offseason with a gameplan and came into Spring Training and took that into the season and tried to have a great season."

Montgomery improved to 76-59 with the win, the second-best record in the Southern League this season behind Chattanooga's 86-49. The Biscuits have clinched a playoff berth in the second half, and Williams' formula for a strong finish is straightforward.

"Honestly, just keep having fun with the guys," he said. "We have a lot of fun. That's one thing about this team I think that has led to a lot of success, just no pressure going out there playing, having fun, being loose. We jell, and I think that's a trait of a championship team."

Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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