I thought it'd be fun to discuss the potential #1 overall draft picks next year, since it seems we're the front runners of this race. If the Astros keep losing, we'll be having a sure-fire 100 loss season, if not a 114 loss season if we continue the pace the Astros have been going on June & July this year. Our Pythagorean record says we've been a bit unlucky, but even knowing that, we're still hotshot candidates for the #1 pick next year. Losing isn't fun, but I'll be a happy puppy knowing that even though next year's draft isn't deep like the one this year was, there are serious candidates hovering over that #1 overall pick next year. If we get #1 overall, who are we going to pick? Are we going to pick a HS pitcher who can throw electric stuff? Are we going to pick a local boy who has 5-tools & more? Are we going to pick a 3rd baseman to fill a desperate organizational need? These are the questions many of us are wondering. But I have grown attached to one local boy from Galveston who doesn't project to be a 5-tool player, but IS a 5-tool player.
Drawing comparisons to Ken Griffey, Jr., Nick Williams is a local kid from a high school in Galveston, TX, who is currently rated the best position player prospect in the 2012 draft pool. Williams has developed into potential 5-tool player with strength in every tool he possesses. He's got excellent speed, running the 60 yard dash in 6.47 seconds, paired with a good arm, being clocked at 91mph on the mound. His bat is arguably his best tool, with scouts comparing his powerful swing to that of Darryl Strawberry's, which should allow him to hit for tons of power and high average. His bat speed is a big plus, with one scout saying it was the quickest swing he had seen during a one week period. There was concern that he couldn't hit breaking pitches well during his sophomore year, but he has rebounded in his junior season & in wood-bat tournaments by mashing everything over the wall.
From http://galvestondailynews.com/story/164194, after his sophmore year in high school:
GALVESTON — Having already hit three home runs in his first three plate appearances at the World Wood Baseball Association’s 16-and-under National Championship tournament in Marietta, Ga., Billy "Nick" Williams asked some of his teammates a question in the dugout.
"What do you think the odds are of me hitting another one?" the Ball High two-sport star asked. "We figured the odds weren’t very good, so I kind of wanted to sit out the rest of the game and finish 3-for-3 with three home runs."
In 2008, a bleacherreport.com study found the odds of a major league baseball player hitting four consecutive home runs in a single game was 0.00000791 percent.
Williams defied the odds, blasting a change-up over the right field fence in his next at-bat to finish 4-for-4 with four homers and seven RBIs.
Williams went on to go 12-for-26 with six home runs and 12 RBIs in the eight games in the wood-bat tournament.
Williams started off the season hot but struggled at times in district play because teams would throw him only off-speed or breaking pitches.
In Williams’ breakout game, all four of his home runs were on off-speed pitches. The first three were on curveballs.
Needless to say, he has adjusted.
"Playing last year helped me be ready to hit a curve more," Williams said. "That was pretty much all anyone threw me in district. I had to learn how to sit back and not be so anxious."
Added Medellin: "He was geared in. It didn’t matter what pitch was thrown to him, he was hitting it out of the park. I had never seen anything like it, and a lot of scouts were saying the same thing."
In his junior season at Ball High this past year, he has hit .537, with 8 doubles, 2 triples, and 13 homers. He is currently slugging over 1000, with an OPS of 1.786. He has 14 stolen bases out of 16 attempts, and has walked 15 times while striking out only 19. He ended this past year with 102 plate appearances.
And just to show how much potential this guy has, look at this video of him hitting in the power showcase, hosted at Chase Field this past winter. You will be amazed.
I have a hard time imagining his floor as a prospect, since he is much more developed than most high school hitters. If he does struggle, it would probably be his bat that would be first to go. At worst he could be a career minor leaguer or a bench player in the majors with a lot of speed, good defense, but not good enough of a bat to start. e.g. Jason Bourgeois (last year), Brandon Barnes, etc...
Here comes the fun part. While some prospects are valued on what they're projected to be able to do down the road, Nick Williams has a lot of talent that he is showing already. He possesses a great eye at the plate, with quick bat speed, and ability to hit breaking pitches for homers. I think it's likely he'll be able to reach 40 homers a year with his talent. With that, I'll take a Ken Griffey, Jr. comparison.
Will the Astros pick him?
This is a tough decision since there is another year of playing time before players can be drafted. Currently Lance McCullers & Mark Appel, 2 right handed pitchers, are ranked ahead of Williams. A shortstop, Kenny Diekroeger, and a third baseman, Trey Williams, are right behind. Our system lacks starting pitching, relief pitching, and 3rd basemen. McCullers is a highschool pitcher who can throw around 98 mph, but he is a highschool pitcher, and those tend to need development before they can advance levels, and therefore is a more riskier pick. Appel is a Stanford pitcher, but his velocity isn't as high as McCullers. Diekroeger is a shortstop & we have too many of those in our system. Trey Williams is a 3rd baseman, but he didn't have as good of a year Nick Williams had.
We could always use another impact bat, so if Nick Williams has a repeat year, it would be hard to pass him up, since he is much more developed than the other bats in the draft and he has rare tools & skills that will be hard to find later in the draft, similar to those of Bryce Harper, but without all the drama.
http://www.power-showcase.com/?p=581 - Information about Nick Williams during the power showcase, along with personal achievements, and kind words from his highschool baseball coach.