Background Born and raised in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Williams grew up a Red Sox fan and later moved to Winter Haven, Florida with his family when he was 13. His father Derwin was drafted by the Reds out of college, but he instead pursued football, playing 42 games at wide receiver for the New England Patriots from 1985 to 1987. Mason starred both on the mound and in the outfield for West Orange High School, leading the Warriors to district championships as a sophomore, junior, and senior. During the summers he played for the Midland Redskins, a competitive travel team based out of Cincinnati, who helped to a pair of Connie Mack championships.
Committed to South Carolina, Baseball America ranked Williams the 145th best prospect in the draft this spring. The Yankees selected him with their fourth round pick, which sure enough was #145 overall. In a beautiful little slice of baseball symmetry, Williams signed right on the August 16th deadline for (you guess it), $1.45M. It was the largest bonus given to a draftee by the Yankees this year by half-a-million dollars.
Pro Debut Williams reported to New York’s rookie level affiliate in the Gulf Coast League after signing, where he picked up four singles and a walk in just 19 plate appearances spread across five games. He struck out four times and stole a base, getting caught twice. Williams then participated in Dominican Instructional League after the season.
Scouting Report Long and lanky, Williams checks in at 6-foot-0, 150 lbs. and is an outstanding athlete. He’s a legitimate prospect at both shortstop and in centerfield because of fast-twitch quickness, closing speed, good hands, and a powerful arm that unleashed upper-80′s fastballs in high school. The Yankees had him play strictly centerfield with the GCL Yanks, and chances are he’ll remain there. Regardless, Williams has the tools to be a well-above average defender at either position.
His offensive game is built around everything but power, which isn’t surprising given his build. Williams has a sweet lefty swing geared for hard contact, and he gets himself into good hitter’s counts with an advanced approach. His speed is an asset on the bases, though he can get a little reckless at times and run himself into outs. Future power may or may not come, it depends entirely on how Williams matures physically. Still just 19, he could grow into a 15 homer hitter, but otherwise cracking double digits will be a chore. There are no concerns about his makeup, and he obviously has good athletic bloodlines.
Here’s a video of one of Williams taking some hacks for his summer league team.
2011 Outlook Williams could probably handle the jump into a full season league next year and survive on athleticism alone, but look for the Yanks to hold him back in Extended Spring Training before assigning him to Short Season Staten Island in June. If Williams performs well early in the year, they could be aggressive and bump him up to Low-A Charleston. Either way, don’t expect him to move that quickly, he’s a one level a year kind of prospect.
My Take Depending on who you ask, Williams is the best prospect the Yankees drafted this summer. They went for upside and athleticism, and Williams offers the most well-rounded package of both, with good baseball skills and polish. I’m always concerned about low power guys because they could be prone to having the bat knocked out of their hands by good fastballs at the upper levels, but we’re a long ways away from having that be a real problem for Williams. If he can keep the strikeouts to a minimum and use his speed, he’s got a chance to be a game-changing force atop a big league lineup.
Jesus Montero entered the 2010 season as the Yankees top prospect and he finished the season as their top prospect so things must have gone well for him.
The truth is it was a tale of two seasons for Montero. After splitting 2009 between high-A and double-A he was promoted to triple-A even though at 20-years-old he was one of the youngest players in the league.
He started the season off slowly. He hit just .247 in April and was even worse in May batting .214 with a .635 OPS. For a prospect who has had nothing but success at every level in the minors it was shocking to see him struggle. After all, with suspect defense if he can’t hit he really isn’t much of a prospect at all.
Then starting in June something really impressive happened. Montero turned his season around. By the time the Mariners turned down the Yankees’ offer for Lee, which included Montero, for the Ranger’s offer he had not only turned his season around, but started absolutely dominating the league.
In June he hit .283 with a .324 OBP and a .829 OPS. He also hit as many home runs that month, three, as he had hit in April and May combined. In July he hit .342 with a .441 OBP and a 1.072 OPS. In August a .330 BA and a .985 OPS. He topped all that off by hitting .370 with a 1.222 OPS in six games in September.
The reason why that turn around was so impressive is because it’s typical for a 20-year-old to struggle in triple-A. It isn’t always typical for them to turn around their season the way Montero did.
He also turned around his attitude a bit. Starting in spring training Montero showed up out of shape. At the time there were quotes from Brian Cashman who supposedly sat down with the kid and explained to him how important he was to the organization and that he needed to work harder in order to take advantage of his unique opportunity. Then in May he was benched for lack of hustle.
I’m not sure what the excuse for showing up out of shape is, but he was really struggling offensively in May and that was something he had never really experienced. Not hustling is really not that big of a deal as long as it doesn’t become a regular issue. By the end of the year he was drawing big praise for his hustle and effort from the manager and the coaching staff of the triple-A Scranton Yankees.
A big thing about Montero as a prospect now is his defense. His bat has potential to be really special, but a big reason why he is such a highly regarded prospect is because if he can stick behind the plate and become a major league catcher the Yankees would have a big advantage over every team with a light hitting catcher.
Montero is a big guy, 6’4″ and at least 225 lbs.. That is rather large for a catcher even if with guys like Joe Mauer it is becoming more common. So throughout Montero’s minor league career he has always struggled to keep up defensively with other catchers in the Yankees’ system.
A big part of the reason why Montero was never called up to the majors this season despite his monumental second half numbers was because the Yankees wanted to make sure he had an entire season in the minors this year. It wasn’t for any reason other than to get him more practice behind the plate. 2010 was his first full season playing everyday behind the plate (before that he split time with Austin Romine).
So how did it go? Well depending on whom you listen to is the answer you’ll get. Most scouts and pundits aren’t overly excited by his defensive progress. The Yankees differ with that though including Gene Michael who supposedly was integral in convincing Brian Cashman that he is ready to handle the everyday starting job next season.
Now, just because the Yankees insist he’s ready to catch at the major league level doesn’t make it so. They could be telling the truth or they could simply think he’s merely good enough to get the job done thinking his offense will make up for poor defense. Or they may even just be trying to convince the rest of the league that he’s good enough so he has more trade value. We as fans will not be able to know until we begin watching him everyday.
It seems to me that Montero is the clear no. 1 prospect in the Yankees system. How good he will eventually be depends on two things, how quickly he adjusts to the majors and two, how much improvement he has made defensively.
Either way, we’ll find out next season as long as the Yankees don’t trade him. The catching job is his to lose and even if he doesn’t get it out of spring training, he probably won’t be in the minors by the end of May 2011.
Career Transactions: Selected by Diamondbacks in 11th round of 2009 draft; signed June 19, 2009.
South Bend (MWL)
Allen throws four pitches, three of which grade as average at times, but lacks the one dominating offering to put batters away. He sinks his fastball at 87-91 mph and occasionally breaks out a swing-and-miss slider in the high 70s or a changeup in the same range. His curveball is less refined, but he's around the zone with it and all his pitches. Wiry strong, Allen has a quick arm, but he tends to tire visibly by the fourth inning. Still, he's worth taking a flier on because he's a teenager who already shows a feel for pitching.
A year ago Dellin Betances had trouble making anybody’s prospects list. Today he’s no. 3 on Baseball America’s Yankees prospects lists and probably less than a year away from his major league debut.
Yes, 2010 was a great year for Betances.
Betances, 6’8″ and 22-years-old, he has already had to deal with quite a few injuries during his career. In 2009 he had no apparent damage, but was dealing with constant elbow pain. So he had ligament reinforcement surgery which is similar to Tommy John surgery and came away pain free in 2010.
Consistency is hard to achieve for most players coming off of surgery, but Betances took off in 2010 in an amazing way. In 14 games at High-A Tampa he threw 71 innings with 88 strikeouts, 19 walks, and a 1.77 ERA. It doesn’t get much better than that.
That performance earned him a late season promotion to Double-A Trenton where he pitched three times. His 3.77 ERA in those starts wasn’t as impressive as his time in Tampa, but his 20 strikeouts and three walks in 14.1 innings was.
Throughout his minor league career Betances always had a lot of potential because of a strong fastball and a good curve, but his lack of a plus third pitch and consistent mechanics seemed to limit his ceiling. Since coming back from surgery his changeup has really stood out and his impressive 2.3 BB/9 rate indicates his mechanics are much improved too.
Here is what former scout Frankie Piliere wrote about him this past August:
Given some real similarities in their deliveries, as well as having highly similar arsenals and approaches, the best modern-day comparison for Dellin Betances is Josh Beckett. Obviously, Beckett may not still be that dominant pitcher, so this comparison goes more for the Beckett of old. Betances obviously is taller than Beckett, but other than that they are comparable in just about every other way, including the powerful mid-90s fastball, their deliveries, and the hard 12-6 hooks.
That’s an impressive report considering that Beckett played huge roles in leading the 2003 Marlins and 2007 Red Sox to become World Series champions.
He’ll be 23 by the start of the next season and he’s not on the 40-man roster now, but he is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft so it’s likely he’ll be added soon. That means he could potentially be a September call-up this season. First he’s likely going to start 2011 in Double-A, but if he dominates there the way he did in High-A last year he won’t stay there long.
By 2012 he should have an outside chance of winning a spot in the Yankees rotation. He’ll certainly be on the short list for replacements and if he can adapt to the major leagues he could be in the rotation for good by 2013.
Braves Part Ways With Former First Round Pick Cody Johnson
Yes, the Braves own mighty Casey has played his last game for the organization that drafted him. Slugger Cody Johnson was drafted in the first round of the 2006 draft, 24th overall. When he was selected he was considered a high risk / high reward player -- someone with enormous power, but also enormous holes in his swing. During his time in the Braves minor league system both showed up.
The Braves have apparently sold Johnson to the Yankees in return for cash considerations. That's what an organization does when it wants to save a little face and not completely release a player.
In 1813 minor league plate appearances Johnson has hit 94 home runs, but he has struck out 629 times -- more than a third of his plate appearances. He seemed to be unable to conquer double-A pitching, with the Braves demoting him last year back to single-A.
Johnson has prodigious power, but he hasn't gotten it through his head that he has to make contact for that power to count. Coaches at every level have tried to get him to refine his all-or-nothing approach to the plate, but time after time he refused to listen. This "release" has as much to do with Johnson's sour attitude as it does with his poor performance.
The Yankees added him to their triple-A roster ... a bit of wishful thinking.