Minor League News: Mason Williams Power, Heathcott Returns, What Is A Yasel Puig?

March 23, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees outfielder Mason Williams (85) drives in a run in the seventh inning against the Minnesota Twins at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE


As if we weren't already excited about Mason Williams, let's talk a bit about his recent power surge. Williams has now homered in three straight games, and four of his last five contests, giving him a total of seven on the season. I immediately took to the web to find some video of this recent feat, and stumbled on another Mike Newman masterpiece on the exact subject I was searching for over at Fangraphs. These two paragraphs do a good job of summing up Williams current approach, as well as future power potential:

In game action, Williams displayed impressive bat whip, but a swing which had a tendency to become long. Initially, this led me to ponder how much swing-and-miss was present with Williams even though a sub-10% strikeout rate points to plus contact ability. And while my initial reaction may not be supported by numbers, one still wants to see a batted ball profile chock full of line drives and hard ground balls out of a player like Williams.

In retrospect, this may be what I picked up on initially. A short, quick stroke with some lift is ideal. With a leg kick and extra bat waggle, Williams achieves a longer swing which can become "lift happy" for a player of his stature. Additionally, he chased a few fastballs up, as well as breaking balls in the dirt in which little bat control was present. However, the 20-year old has the bat speed and natural lift to hit 12-15 home runs annually without having to "muscle up" by consistently barreling the baseball. Should Williams improve his plate discipline and learn to better identify pitches he can drive, the potential is there for him to nudge that total even higher while hitting for average as well.

It's easy to get excited about Williams, but let's not forget there will be major adjustments he'll need to make as he moves through the system. Upper level pitching will exploit his weaknesses, and that is when we'll find out what this kid is really made of. It would be fantastic to see him develop into a stud defensive center fielder who carries a high average and 20/20 potential annually, but for now, I'll be happy with his success down at Charleston.

If you missed Tanya's interview of Williams and Tyler Austin, here is the link to catch you up on what I feel is required reading for all Yankee fans.

More after the jump...

Ravel Santana is back on the field for Staten Island, and the results have been sluggish early on (through five games: .133, 3 BB, 10 K). Keep in mind he's returning to the field for the first time since suffering a horrific ankle injury last season, so a slow start shouldn't be anything alarming, especially considering the small sample size. Santana is a five-tool talent who has the ability to turn things around quickly once he gets acclimated to the rigors of everyday baseball once again.

Another exciting return occurred last night in Tampa, as Slade Heathcott took the field, returning from shoulder surgery that ended his 2011 campaign early. He went 1-for-5 with an RBI and strikeout in his debut with Tampa, but even more importantly, he's back on the field and can resume his development. Heathcott was a South Atlantic League mid-season All-Star last season before injury derailed him, and it will be interesting to see if he picks up where he left off.

After a hot start to the season in April (31.1 IP, 2.01 ERA, 32/10 K/BB), Nik Turley has run into a bit of a wall for Tampa, finding himself in a funk that has his ERA up to 3.75 on the year. May (5.54 ERA) and June (7.00 ERA) have not been kind to the young lefty, as he battled a blister issue that sent him to the 7-day DL, and hasn't recaptured his early season form since returning. Turley was on many prospect sleeper lists heading into the season, so this recent turn of events is a bit concerning. Patience seems to be the best approach at this point, as he could turn things around at any moment while working through some physical struggles.

What is a Yasel Puig, you might ask? No, it isn't an exotic wild boar being breeded and raised by your wacky third cousin in the boonies. If you guessed 'latest Cuban import to speculate about for the Yankees to sign', then you'd be right! There isn't a ton of information out there on Puig, although Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com offers up this small tidbit for us:

Puig, a 6'3" 210 pound outfielder, has two seasons of experience in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He’s more polished than Jorge Soler but less seasoned than Yoenis Cespedes, according to Sanchez.

Looking for more? Take a look at this scouting video of Puig. Be amazed by his effortless swing, deep flies against inferior pitching, and a handful of seeing-eye singles:

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