Playing in the hitter-friendly confines ofCitizens Bank Park, the Phillies won’t be able to return to their once-winning ways with just speed, defense and pitching. They need to hit. And they need to bring the power.
Gone are the days of flashbulbs flickering every time Ryan Howard tapped his bat on home plate, when Chase Utley’s compact swing sent bullets into right field or when Jayson Werth’s power boost helped lead the Phillies to the postseason.
But the power may return again, and sooner than you think.
At least that’s what outfield prospect Nick Williams thinks. He lives for home runs.
“My dad threw me 200 pitches a day,” Williams recalled in a recent visit to Philadelphia before spring training. “I always wanted to hit home runs. My first one was when I was 5. When you’re a kid it’s all about home runs.”
At 22, it’s still about home runs. He hit 17 in Double-A last season and the former Rangers draftee is ranked as the No. 55 prospect in baseball right now. In all, he has 47 homers and 216 RBI in 347 career minor league games and a .296 batting average.
At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds he also boasts speed, but is focused on improving his plate discipline. He’ll need to get his walks up and strikeouts down if he hopes to crack the major league lineup this season. But it’s a goal he plans to achieve. What’s his timeframe?
“September,” Williams, who attended the same Galviston, TX high school as NFL receiver Mike Evans, said.”I would love to be in the big leagues, that’s my birthday month. The ultimate is, I want to be in the big leagues as soon as possible but I wouldn’t be disappointed if it wasn’t really early. … You don’t want to get here too early and crush your confidence.”
Sooner or later, Williams and his fellow youngsters will make their MLB impact. And among a unique environment filled with new faces and friendly competition between players in the same age group, Philadelphia might just be the perfect place for the center fielder.
“So far I love this organization and the people around it. I want to be the best player and polished and teammate I can be.”