Name: Everett Williams
DOB: October 1, 1990
The Padres lucked out when Williams fell to them in the second-round of the 2009 draft. Perceived as a first-round talent, Williams didn't sign until the final day of eligibility. There were some questions about whether he would sign because he was bitter about where he ended up being drafted. Williams did have a commitment to play baseball at the University of Texas.
"He could be a corner outfielder with power and the defensive instincts of a center fielder," said former scouting director Chief Gayton.
"We had Williams much higher on our board," former Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "When he fell to our spot in the second round, he was far too good to pass up."
His first taste of professional ball came across four games with the Arizona Rookie League Padres. He went 7-for-18 with three extra-base hits, a run scored and six RBI while adding two stolen bases.
"For a high school kid, he jumped right in there," roving hitting coordinator Tony Muser said. "He's not in too much of awe about professional baseball.
"I like his tools. He's kind of an exciting young kid. I like his strength because when he swings the bat and makes contact there's a pretty nice sound to the ball off the bat. He's an interesting kid."
The Texas native was quickly moved up to short-season Eugene where he was 5-for-25, hitting his first homer and netting three extra-base hits overall.
"I see lots of stuff," Eugene manager Greg Riddoch said. "I see quickness. I see a good bat. He's smoked some balls. Eighteen-year-old facing these 24-year-old Salem guys, that's only six years, but what's six years difference? He got his share of hits and did a pretty good job, but he doesn't really know the game yet, and why should he?"
Williams ended up striking out in 41.9 percent of his at-bats while half of his 12 hits went for extra bases.
The center fielder continued his tutelage in the Padres fall Instructional League. He saw more pitches than any other player and received the second most plate appearances. Williams hit .294, seeing four pitches per at-bat, and tied for the team lead with a pair of homers while recording a team leading 17 hard contacts. He did, however, strike out 12 times.
Williams hit .462 with six home runs, 34 RBI and 27 stolen bases in 2009 for McCallum High School in Austin, Texas. An Aflac All-American in 2008, he tallied 36 home runs, 173 RBI and 73 stolen bases over his high school career, hitting over .400 each season.
The outfielder has a ton of raw talent that needs to be harnessed. He has plus tools across the board, outside of arm strength, but each needs tweaking to reach their potential.
"Athletic," former AZL Padres and current Fort Wayne manager Jose Flores said. "Nice build. A nice, strong body and showed some good pop during BP. BP can be looked at different ways but he looked like he had some pop both ways – left center and right center. It looks like he can run. He looks athletic. He looks like a ball player."
"I saw an athletic high school kid with very quick hands," former Eugene hitting coach Eric Peyton said. "Just with six games, I was impressed. I think he's a leadoff hitter. He was mature for what I saw, already had clean mechanics. He just needed to see more pitching, but he handled himself well. He battled, there were older guys who were pitching him tough. As far as the skill level and the talent, they were way above average. Honestly, the quickest hands on our team once he came up; very fast hands. Just a strong young man."
An athletic specimen who added 10 pounds during his senior season of high school, Williams has a lot to clean up with the bat. He is a fly out of his shoes type of hitter that swings for the fences more often than not. He has a significant loop in his swing that takes his bat out of the hitting zone early and limits his contact rate. Williams also has a wrap in his swing right before release that must be ironed out.
Working in his favor is a solid foundation. He has exceptionally quick wrists and hands to fly through the zone. Williams also gets good separation and a strong sense of weight transference to bring his bulk back before striking forward like a viper. There are times, however, where his quick instincts will put him off-balance going forward and open up his front side shoulder. He must keep the closed or face the wrath of missing outside pitches.
"A lot of really good fast muscle reactions," Former AZL Padres and current Fort Wayne hitting coach Bob Skube said. "And runs well. Got a lot of bat speed and all those things. If he can learn how to slow the game down, he's got a chance to learn to be a very good player."
"I would compare him to Cedric Hunter with more strength," Muser said. "He has a real strong body for the size of the body that he has. It's thicker than Cedric.
"I like his strength. I like the quickness of his hands. There are a lot of things he has to clean up. He gets a lot of balls in the air for a little guy. Right now, I think he needs to focus on hitting line drives and not lifting the ball. He's got kind of a lift in his swing where he needs to get on top more and level his swing out."
Williams is more patient than he appears. He pressed some in high school because he was on a poor team and that developed some bad habits. While naturally aggressive, he has pitch recognition abilities. He would rather swing than let a close pitch go by. Once his swing plane is adjusted to be more level, Williams will need to refine his approach by narrowing his strike zone. That should lead to more walks.
He lacks an explosive first-step but has top-flight speed once in motion. Once he learns the nuances of the running game and becomes better at anticipating a pitcher's move towards home, his ability to steal bases will take off. He has the potential to be a player that bags 40 stolen bases or more each year. Experience and in-game seasoning will get him closer to attaining that goal and there may be some failure along the route.
Williams is very adept at tracking balls in the outfield and uses his speed to give him plus range. His arm is average, but he is accurate. A cocky player, he can suffer from bouts of inconsistency when he believes he has a ball in his sights and glides towards it rather than giving all-out hustle.
"His defensive work was ok," Flores said. "He needs some work positioning himself for fly balls and getting his maximum effort on his throws."
A believer in his ability, Williams is somewhat resistant to change. He is a hard worker but prefers his own methods rather than that of someone else. That does not work to his advantage.
He also doesn't have the work ethic necessary to reach his talent level. Running the bases aggressively seems like a burden to the outfielder and doing all the necessary work in pre-game must improve.
"He's probably been undisciplined like a lot of kids," Riddoch said. "Run if you want, if you're feeling good, run hard, if you don't, you don't run hard. When you've been the star a big stud in your teens, you just kind of do what you want to do.
"The daily grind will get to him after a while. How will he handle that makeup wise? Will he be able to handle that, like any high school kid? The tools are there. I'm real excited."
One coach would disagree with the sentiment that he was not willing to change.
"He listens," Peyton said. "I was just trying to tell him little things that he might have to go through, and he made the adjustments pretty fast. He stayed up the middle a few times more when they were throwing tough sliders and cutters. He was patient at the plate, and he seemed to get a good pitch to a hit, and I was impressed with that."
Conclusion: The outfielder likens himself to a mix of Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton because of his power/speed combo. His speed is ahead of his power, but he needs to work on reading pitchers' moves to take advantage. He must also work on getting stronger and accept that the coaches are there for his benefit. If he can eliminate the loop in his swing and improve his pitch selection, Williams can be a special player at the top of the lineup with impact ability. He will need to push himself harder during the pre-game workout to reach the high ceiling.
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