COMMENTARY | New York Yankees prospect Mason Williams was named by MLB.com as the 10th best outfield prospect in the minor leagues on Monday.
The site described the 21-year-old Williams, who Baseball America recently named as the team's top overall prospect, as a potential impact player.
"He still has a ways to go, but the 2012 South Atlantic League All-Star is starting to show that New York may have made a wise investment" when the Yankees signed him away from a commitment to play college ball, wrote MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
In 2010, the Yankees signed Williams for $1.5 million, well above the average bonus amount for a fourth-round draft pick.
"A left-handed hitter, Williams has displayed a knack for making consistent contact and should continue to hit for average," according to Mayo. "More power should develop in the future. So should his basestealing ability, as his overall game improves through physical and emotional maturity."
In November, Baseball America named Williams the Yankees' top prospect after he split the season between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, where he hit for a combined .298 batting average to go along with 11 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
Late in the season, Williams damaged his left (non-throwing) shoulder while diving for a ball, an injury that ended his season. However, Williams recently returned to Tampa, where he's resumed working out.
Most scouts project that Williams won't be ready for the major leagues until 2014, but he's already shown that hit for average, steal bases, and cover a lot of ground in the outfield.
After leading the New York-Penn League with 94 hits and 28 stolen bases for the Staten Island Yankees in 2011, Williams was named the league's player of the year. He finished second with a .349 batting average. He was also named as one of the Yankee organization's best outfielders.
In recent months, Williams' name emerged as a potential trading chip for the Yankees, including potential deals for Justin Upton.
Williams' selection to MLB.com's list means Gary Sanchez won't be the Yankees' lone representative on MLB.com's Top 10s. Earlier this month, the site tapped Sanchez as the third best catching prospect.
Howard Z. Unger is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, New York. For the past 15 years, he has written about sports, media, and popular culture. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, New York Post, and New York Times.