Heading into the 2013 campaign, outfield prospect Mason Williams was ranked as the 32nd and 41st best prospect in baseball by Baseball America and MLB.com, respectively. He was also ranked as the second-best prospect in the Yankee organization by our very own Pinstriped Bible. This all came after he hit .298/.346/.474 across two levels and 91 games last year. Williams didn't have the same success to begin 2013, though, not even close, but over the past month and a half, he has heated up to the point where the first part of the season was just a thing of the past.
Although Williams had a strong 2012, it ended abruptly in August when he tore the left (non-throwing) labrum in his shoulder. His misfortunes in the Florida State League with the Tampa Yankees carried over to this year when, on April 25, he was arrested for a DUI in the wee hours of the morning. He was doing fine at the plate before then (.271/.400/.371, 87 plate appearances), but fell off a cliff after the arrest (.200/.266/.278 next 130 PA's through May 29).
To make matters worse, a scout in mid-May compared him to Ichiro Suzuki, in a negative way, where he takes a step towards first base and just kind of slaps at the ball instead of driving it. His energy, or lack thereof, and his off-the-field makeup were questioned as well. Despite those criticisms, scouts still believe he plays a good center field while also running and throwing well.
To his credit, Williams has worked hard to put some of his early season troubles behind him. Since May 31, the 21-year-old center fielder has torn the cover off the ball, hitting .355/.398/.482 in 122 PA's. This hot stretch raised his season line from an ugly .227/.319/.314 line through May to a much more respectable .275/.347/.376 clip.
There are probably a multitude of reasons why Williams struggled early on. He could have been shaking off some rust following the shoulder surgery, the DUI could have gotten into his head, or it could've been a completely different matter. Whatever it was, it's nice to see one of the better prospects in the organization battle through some adversity and turn his season around for the better.