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Luke Williams, the Phillies prospect who had been off to a scorching start at Triple A, has made a big, early impact for Team USA in the Baseball Americas Qualifier taking place this week in Florida.
Williams, who plays every infield and outfield position, hit a two-run triple in the sixth inning Tuesday night that served as Team USA’s game-winning hit over the Dominican Republic.
Williams has led off and played left field in both games for Team USA. He has reached base in 7 of his 10 plate appearances, going 5 for 8 with two walks and three runs scored.
He is hitting .352 at Triple A.
“I talked to him about it, he was very excited about it and I was happy for him. He’s pumped,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said in the week leading up to the event.
Team USA is 2-0 in the qualifying tournament, with a 7-1 win over Nicaragua and the 8-6 win over the Dominican Republic. USA’s next game is at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Port St. Lucie against Puerto Rico.
Four of the six teams that will compete as baseball returns to the summer Olympics for the first time since 2008 are Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Israel. The qualifying tournament this week in Florida determines another.
The sixth and final spot will go to the team that wins the next qualifying tournament June 22-26. That qualifier will include the teams that finish in second and third place this week, plus Australia, Taiwan and the Netherlands.
Williams, 24, was the Phillies’ third-round pick in 2015 out of Dana Hills HS in California. He has played in spring training games for the Phillies in each of the last four years and continues to inch his way toward his first big-league promotion.
Girardi was asked last week what would happen if the Phillies needed Williams while Olympic games or qualifiers were taking place.
"I would say MLB (comes first)," Girardi said.