Williams Finding His Footing

"Consistent": A word you hear quite often as a goal of Staten Island Yankees players, but it's usually not a realization. Hitters in these early stages of their career strive for consistency, and tend to struggle to achieve it this early on. Mason Williams is one of the few that has shown that rare equilibrium in the 2011 season.

With all of the adjustments players are forced to make as they enter professional baseball, it is hard to find stability when you're changing what you've done most of your young life. Williams on the other hand, has taken his Spring-adjusted swing and gone to work.

"This was my first Spring Training and I actually felt pretty good," Williams said. "I was working on using my legs more for hitting. Coming out of high school I was more of a slap hitter so it helped me a lot to drive the ball into the gaps."

There was a chance Williams would break camp with the Charleston RiverDogs, but the Yankees have been patient their young prospects and sent him to Extended Spring Training instead.

"I didn't have any idea where I was going to go, especially once I was assigned to Extended Spring Training. I was trying my hardest to break camp and go somewhere in the long-season, but once Extended happened I knew where I was going to be."

Extended Spring Training was a chance for the 19 year-old to bear down and work on those new swing mechanics to help him find some power and steer away from his slap-hitting tendencies, something that he continues to work on today.

"Even now we are still working on the swing, and I know it can always get better. I'm actually hitting balls a lot harder than in the past so it's definitely showing some progress right now."

Right off the bat, Williams made an impact in Staten Island and belted two home runs in the early season, something that surprised even him as he adjusted to the newfound power.

"A certain power definitely came with the swing adjustment and a couple home runs came early but I'm not trying to hit them out," Williams continued. "I surprised myself at that point early on, but it's not something I'm trying to do."

So what exactly is the key to Williams season so far? He's hitting a robust (.343), leads the league in hits (48) and sits among the leaders in total bases.

"The biggest key is probably confidence," he said. :I'm going out there with a lot of confidence at the plate right now and have the ability to play every day and have a good mindset. So I know that having the right mindset going into each day can go a long way.

"When I'm at the plate I'm really not trying to think about anything in particular. Whether it's in the cage or batting practice, sure, I think about what I have to do. But out on the field, the adjustments aren't on my mind."

Staten Island Manager Tommy Slater finds a lot to commend Williams with as the 2011 season goes on, and credits his multi-talented centerfielder with several accolades.

"There's a lot of really good things that Mason does. He runs extremely well, he plays centerfield extremely well. [Hitting coach] Ty Hawkins has done extremely well getting him hitting on his legs and he's hitting lefties way better right now than he was coming into Extended Spring Training. He's a dynamic player."

A lifetime of speed has helped the slender Florida native throughout his career, and his raw quickness has enabled him to virtually control the running game on the basepaths. But Williams has hit a bit of a snag in Staten Island as he has been caught six times in 18 attempts.

"To me, I'm stealing off the pitcher, so that read and that move is key," Williams said. "Timing the pitcher, being able to see him a few times, reading his move, what count he's in, those things are all playing a part in the approach I have to have, so it's something I'm adjusting to."

Slater is quick to note that Williams has become a victim of his earlier success, but it is something that many young players are forced to adjust to.

"He runs extremely well but the base running part for these guys is still a learning curve," Slater added. "Getting the right lead every time, and learning how to read pitchers is important. All through high school, he's outrunning the baseball. Now he's playing at a higher level so he's getting caught. Maybe he didn't get the best jump but there's no question that he's going to be a tremendous base stealer.

"It's learning that maybe they didn't get the best jump so they need to shut it down," Slater continued. "Or they got a great jump and can keep going. For all the young guys they think they can still outrun it and it's just a matter of learning."

It's all about adjustment at the early levels of the minors. Some players can change their lifetime habits easily; some need more time to adjust. Mason Williams found his footing pretty quickly this year and intends to keep it going, but there's no doubt in his mind that there's work left to do.

"Yeah, I have a lot to work on, getting stronger, getting bigger," Williams admitted. "And it's a constant thing to work on driving the ball with power through my legs. That's a tough part. Sometimes I fall back into those slap hitter ways. Another key is to work on my bunting game more and use my speed. It's been ok so far but I know I have work to do."

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\r\n \r\n\r\nWith all of the adjustments players are forced to make as they enter professional baseball, it is hard to find stability when you're changing what you've done most of your young life. Williams on the other hand, has taken his Spring-adjusted swing and gone to work.
\r\n
\r\n\"This was my first Spring Training and I actually felt pretty good,\" Williams said. \"I was working on using my legs more for hitting. Coming out of high school I was more of a slap hitter so it helped me a lot to drive the ball into the gaps.\"
\r\n
\r\nThere was a chance Williams would break camp with the Charleston RiverDogs, but the Yankees have been patient their young prospects and sent him to Extended Spring Training instead.
\r\n
\r\n\"I didn't have any idea where I was going to go, especially once I was assigned to Extended Spring Training. I was trying my hardest to break camp and go somewhere in the long-season, but once Extended happened I knew where I was going to be.\"
\r\n
\r\nExtended Spring Training was a chance for the 19 year-old to bear down and work on those new swing mechanics to help him find some power and steer away from his slap-hitting tendencies, something that he continues to work on today.
\r\n
\r\n\"Even now we are still working on the swing, and I know it can always get better. I'm actually hitting balls a lot harder than in the past so it's definitely showing some progress right now.\"
\r\n
\r\nRight off the bat, Williams made an impact in Staten Island and belted two home runs in the early season, something that surprised even him as he adjusted to the newfound power.
\r\n
\r\n\"A certain power definitely came with the swing adjustment and a couple home runs came early but I'm not trying to hit them out,\" Williams continued. \"I surprised myself at that point early on, but it's not something I'm trying to do.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo what exactly is the key to Williams season so far? He's hitting a robust (.343), leads the league in hits (48) and sits among the leaders in total bases.
\r\n
\r\n\"The biggest key is probably confidence,\" he said. :I'm going out there with a lot of confidence at the plate right now and have the ability to play every day and have a good mindset. So I know that having the right mindset going into each day can go a long way.
\r\n
\r\n\"When I'm at the plate I'm really not trying to think about anything in particular. Whether it's in the cage or batting practice, sure, I think about what I have to do. But out on the field, the adjustments aren't on my mind.\"
\r\n
\r\nStaten Island Manager Tommy Slater finds a lot to commend Williams with as the 2011 season goes on, and credits his multi-talented centerfielder with several accolades.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's a lot of really good things that Mason does. He runs extremely well, he plays centerfield extremely well. [Hitting coach] Ty Hawkins has done extremely well getting him hitting on his legs and he's hitting lefties way better right now than he was coming into Extended Spring Training. He's a dynamic player.\"
\r\n
\r\nA lifetime of speed has helped the slender Florida native throughout his career, and his raw quickness has enabled him to virtually control the running game on the basepaths. But Williams has hit a bit of a snag in Staten Island as he has been caught six times in 18 attempts.
\r\n
\r\n\"To me, I'm stealing off the pitcher, so that read and that move is key,\" Williams said. \"Timing the pitcher, being able to see him a few times, reading his move, what count he's in, those things are all playing a part in the approach I have to have, so it's something I'm adjusting to.\"
\r\n
\r\nSlater is quick to note that Williams has become a victim of his earlier success, but it is something that many young players are forced to adjust to.
\r\n
\r\n\"He runs extremely well but the base running part for these guys is still a learning curve,\" Slater added. \"Getting the right lead every time, and learning how to read pitchers is important. All through high school, he's outrunning the baseball. Now he's playing at a higher level so he's getting caught. Maybe he didn't get the best jump but there's no question that he's going to be a tremendous base stealer.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's learning that maybe they didn't get the best jump so they need to shut it down,\" Slater continued. \"Or they got a great jump and can keep going. For all the young guys they think they can still outrun it and it's just a matter of learning.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt's all about adjustment at the early levels of the minors. Some players can change their lifetime habits easily; some need more time to adjust. Mason Williams found his footing pretty quickly this year and intends to keep it going, but there's no doubt in his mind that there's work left to do.
\r\n
\r\n\"Yeah, I have a lot to work on, getting stronger, getting bigger,\" Williams admitted. \"And it's a constant thing to work on driving the ball with power through my legs. That's a tough part. Sometimes I fall back into those slap hitter ways. Another key is to work on my bunting game more and use my speed. It's been ok so far but I know I have work to do.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

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