Rangers Prospect Video: Nick Williams (5/22)

PEORIA, Ariz. – After missing exactly one month of action due to a shoulder injury, Single-A Hickory outfielder Nick Williams is back in the Crawdads' lineup. The 19-year-old prospect recently rehabbed at extended spring training. Lone Star Dugout has video and an update of his prospect status.

Considered a first-round talent entering last year's high school campaign, outfielder Nick Williams and his lackluster senior-year performance have been well-documented at this point. He ultimately fell to the Rangers in the second round––93rd overall––where he was snagged and signed a few days after the draft.

Williams erased many of those doubts brought upon by his senior season while playing in the rookie Arizona League last summer. In 48 complex-league games, he posted a .318/.375/.448 slash line with 15 stolen bases in 17 attempts.

The 19-year-old prospect is off to another fantastic start this season––this time at Single-A Hickory. Through 23 contests, he's hitting .283/.314/.576 with a double, two triples, and eight round-trippers.

Seven of Williams' home runs came within the season's first three weeks. But his torrid start was halted on April 24, when he dove for a ball in left field and injured his shoulder.

Despite the injury, Crawdads manager Corey Ragsdale was quick to point out that Williams made the catch.

"He hurt it diving," Ragsdale said on May 10. "Let me make sure that you guys know that he did make the catch. He made a catch in left-center field. To be honest, I'm not sure what the exact term for what he did was. But he just kind of maybe hyper-extended his shoulder a little bit.

"More than anything, it's a precautionary thing. He has gone through the rehab, and he's swinging and everything now. Now, we're just working him back into some live BPs here shortly and getting him ready to go.

"It's nothing too serious, really. We just want to be sure that nothing lingers with him."

As Ragsdale alluded to, tests for damage to Williams' shoulder came back negative, and the Rangers simply chose to be cautious with their young prospect. Williams recently spent more than a week rehabbing in extended spring training games at the Rangers' minor league complex in Arizona.

Here's video of Williams' game at-bats––including him making a catch in center field––from May 22, his last day in Arizona before returning to Hickory:

Nick Williams, OF, Rehabbing at Extended Spring Training: 5/22/2013 (best viewed in full screen and HD).

Williams' feel for hitting is part of what makes him such an intriguing prospect. While playing in the Arizona League last summer, he'd flash plus raw power to the pull side in batting practice but would employ a line-drive/up-the-middle approach in games. That approach enabled him to hit .313 in his debut summer.

His third at-bat in the video above shows that feel for hitting. After falling behind 0-2 and pulling off against a breaking ball, he takes a pitch inside before keeping his swing compact and his hands inside the ball for a line-drive single to center. While he's an ultra-aggressive hitter with a lot of present swing and miss, he has proven capable of making adjustments––something many talented young hitters lack at this stage.

Now bigger and stronger––the 6-foot-3 Williams is more physically mature with broader shoulders this season––the game power that he previously flashed in batting practice is starting to show up in games.

The Texan's intriguing hit tool has the ability to carry him. Despite being a borderline 70-grade runner, he's much less advanced in the other areas––particularly his base running and defense. Williams can cover ground in the outfield but struggles with his reads and routes.

At present, Williams is at his best in center field, where he played during the rehab appearance against the Mariners' extended spring club. He seems to read the ball off the bat better there than in the corners. His below-average arm strength should land him in left field long-term, but his bat has a chance to carry him.

Overall, Williams has a potential plus hit tool with plus raw power. That aggressive approach will need some refinement, but the offensive skill set––in addition to good athletic ability and excellent speed––is certainly worth watching.

Williams has since returned to the Crawdads' talented lineup. He has appeared in five games post-injury, going 5-for-23 with a triple and a home run.

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