A very cheery morning/late evening to you, too
High-A Tampa centerfielder Mason Williams began 2012 as arguably the team's top positional player prospect in the system, but after dislocating his shoulder in an attempt to make a diving catch on July 25th, his season is over. Williams is scheduled to undergo surgery, and that will wrap up his solid season. He excelled in Short-Season A Staten Island last year (.349/.395/.468 and 28 stolen bases in 68 games), so the Yankees started him at Low-A Charleston in '12. Williams was nothing short of stellar for that team, and he combined with catcher Gary Sanchez and right fielder Tyler Austin to give the Yankees an extremely promising trio for them to watch in the system for years to come. He earned a mid-season promotion to Tampa after hitting .304/.359/.489 with 19 doubles, eight homers, and 19 stolen bases in 69 games with the RiverDogs. The lefthanded hitter did well during a 22-game stint in Tampa, where he hit .277/.302/.422 with three doubles and three homers.
Obviously, there's room for improvement as Williams adjusts to better pitching, and more patience at the plate is likely needed. However, I doubt that he's really fallen in the Yankees' system rankings. The Yankees' 4th round pick in 2010 recently landed in fine positions on various midseason "Top 50 Prospects in Baseball" lists, most notably #25 by Baseball America, #28 by Keith Law, and #36 by Kevin Goldstein. The Yankees are certainly not the only team with a high opinion of the kid, who turns 21 on August 21st. Our own Tanya Bondurant had the opportunity to interview him on June 22nd while he was still with Charleston, and he sure seems like a great player to keep an eye on. He'll probably head back to Tampa to begin 2013, but a promotion to AA Trenton seems like a distinct possibility for next year, be it with a phenomenal Spring Training or a simple mid-season promotion.
Get well soon, Mason. Follow him on Twitter and send him well-wishes!
It's been a rough year for the Yankee farm. Here's what their top 10 preseason prospects (going by Keith Law) have done in 2012:
1. Manny Banuelos (AAA LHP)- Hasn't pitched since mid-May due to elbow problems. Still rehabbing.
2. Mason Williams (A+ CF)- Now done for the season with shoulder surgery after mid-season promotion.
3. Gary Sanchez (A+ C)- One of the few who is still healthy and effective, but he could stand to hit better in Tampa (though he's likely still adjusting to the pitching after his July promotion).
4. Dellin Betances (AA RHP)- Demoted from AAA after walking 8.32/9 and pitching to a 6.39 ERA in 16 starts.
5. Tyler Austin (A+ RF)- Probably the team's Minor League Player of the Year: .323/.407/.581 with 15 homers split with Charleston, Tampa, and the GCL, where he spent a couple games successfully recovering from a head injury.
6. Jose Campos (A RHP)- Showed early promise, but hasn't pitched since April 28th with elbow problems. He won't return in 2012.
7. Dante Bichette, Jr. (A 3B)- It's been a horrible '12 for DBJ (.241/.311/.324), who hasn't impressed in Charleston at all like he did in the GCL after he was drafted last year.
8. Austin Romine (AAA C)- Still working way back to AAA after missing half the season with back injuries.
9. JR Murphy (AA C)- Promoted to AA almost by default to coincide with Sanchez's promotion to Tampa. Mediocre year at .252/.321/.383.
10. Slade Heathcott (A+ CF)- Did not play until late June, but has hit well with Tampa (.270/.354/.476 in 36 games).
In other words, the Yankees' top 10 prospects' 2012 seasons have looked like this:
1. Injured (ManBan)
2. Good but injured (Williams)
3. Good (Sanchez)
4. Ineffective (Betances)
5. Very good (Austin)
6. Injured (Campos)
7. Ineffective (DBJ)
8. Injured (Romine)
9. Mediocre (Murphy)
10. Good but injured (Slade)
Yippie. Get well soon, guys.