With just six hits to his name a little over a month into the season, now may be the time to move the 25-year old outfielder Nick Williams to Triple-A. Drafted in the second round of the MLB draft in 2012, Williams proved to be a serviceable batter after making his debut with the Phillies in 2017. Williams slashed .269/.330/.446 with 29 homers in his first 223 games in the senior circuit, respectively.
Despite an impressive start to his career, the Phillies weren’t quite as bullish on Williams, opting to sign Andrew McCutchen to replace him in the starting lineup. While adding a former NL MVP to your lineup is certainly understandable, the move has had an adverse effect on the development of the aforementioned Williams.
After being a regular fixture in the Phils’ lineup to begin his career, Williams has been relegated to pinch-hitting duties- recording three or more at-bats in just 5 of 31 games this season. This simply isn’t enough playing time for someone as talented as Williams. While I understand trying to get him as much exposure to MLB-caliber pitching as possible, I don’t think batting him so scarcely is benefitting him all that much- as evidenced by his abysmal .150 BA this season.
My fear is that if the Phillies don’t get him more at-bats in his formative years he may never become the player he was projected to be in his first couple years in the big leagues. With that in mind, the Phils should at least explore a move down to Triple-A for the Texas native. A trip to the minors would afford Williams the opportunity to play regularly and improve his game- both offensively and defensively- a chance he simply won’t have with the major league club barring injury.
Additionally, the consequences of a potential move are fairly minimal, as the Phillies could easily find an outfielder capable of matching (preferably exceeding) Williams’ lowly batting numbers this season. With their short-term needs met already, the NL East-leading Phils should try to secure a more productive future, which should include a much more efficient Nick Williams in the lineup.
Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports