The New York Yankees drafted outfielder Mason Williams in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Williams signed a $1.5 million bonus instead of going to the University of South Carolina.
Williams signed his contract on August 16, 2010, which didn’t leave a lot of the season left for him to get his feet wet. The Yankees assigned him to the rookie level Gulf Coast League where he saw action in five games in center field and had four hits, all singles, in 18 at-bats for a .222 average.
For his first real experience in professional baseball, Williams was sent to the S
taten Island Yankees of the short-season A New York-Penn League where he played in 68 games in center field. With the Baby Bombers, the lefty swinging Williams produced a .349/.395/.468 slash line. He stole 28 bases in 40 attempts. He also managed to rip 11 doubles, six triples while hitting three home runs.
With his impressive performance at Staten Island, the Yankees started Williams up at the next level of A ball with the Charleston RiverDogs of the South Atlantic League. In 69 games with the Dogs, Williams put up an impressive slash of .304/.359/.489. Of those 84 hits he had with the Dogs, Williams collected 22 doubles, four triples, and 11 home runs while driving in 28 runs. He managed to cross the plate 55 times. He also stole 19 bases but was also caught nine times.
On July 3, Williams earned a promotion to the high-A Tampa Yankees of the Florida State League. In late July, Williams tore the labrum in his left shoulder while making a catch in center field which placed him on the disabled list. The injury would require season-ending surgery. This would not be Williams’ last experience with a shoulder injury. Although Williams bats left, he throws right meaning the injury occurred in his non-throwing shoulder.
During his time at Tampa, Williams did manage .277/.302/.337 with 23 hits. Three of those hits were doubles with three more being home runs. He struggled to steal bases, managing to swipe only one bag in five attempts.
Williams started off the season back with the Tampa Yankees where he found himself patrolling center field. Bouncing back from his shoulder injury, Williams produced a .261/.327/.350 slash line. He had 106 hits with 21 doubles, three triples and three home runs with 24 RBI. He stole 15 bases and was caught nine times.
On August 15, Williams efforts earned him a call-up to the AA Trenton Thunder of the Eastern League. Williams appeared in 17 games collecting 11 hits, three of those doubles with one triple and one home run. In his limited time with Trenton, he batted .153.
The Yankees sent Williams to the Arizona Fall League Scottsdale Scorpions. In 22 games, Williams batted .267 with 23 hits, six of which were doubles. He stole four bases in six attempts.
When Williams came to camp, he was invited as a non-roster invitee to Yankees major league camp. Williams would be assigned back to minor league camp and was sent back to the Trenton Thunder where he would spend the entire season.
Williams batted .223 in 128 games with 113 hits. Of those hits, 18 were doubles, four were triples, and he homered five times while driving in 40 runs. He stole 21 bases in 29 attempts and scored 67 runs.
Williams once again played center field, but also saw some time in right field (11 games) and one game in left field.
Williams season would start in Trenton, route him through Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the AAA International League and all the way up to the Yankees by June.
In 34 games with Trenton, Williams hit an impressive .317 with a .407 on-base percentage. Of his 38 hits, he had seven doubles and drove in 11 runs. He stole 11 bases in 17 attempts.
Williams hot start earned him the call-up to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he would join the RailRiders on May 21. He continued his fine hitting by posting a .321 average in 20 games with a .382 on-base percentage. He whacked another seven doubles while picking up a triple and driving in another 11 runs.
On June 11, Williams was called up to the Yankees while the team was in Baltimore where he made his major league debut a day later. Williams wasted no time making a good impression smashing a home run over the right field wall at Oriole Park at Camden Yards off of Orioles starter Ubaldo Jiminez in his second at-bat.
Williams time with the Yankees would be cut short after eight games when he injured his right shoulder diving back into first base on a pickoff attempt. Again, season-ending surgery would be required, and Williams faced another long rehab stint.
Williams’ recovery from shoulder surgery didn’t allow him to see action until July 2. At that point in time, the Yankees had him play a game in the Gulf Coast League. The next day, the Yankees sent him up to Tampa for rehab where he ended up playing in 11 games batting .333 with 14 hits.
On July 18, Williams was officially activated off the 60-day disabled list and assigned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 31 games, Williams helped the eventual Governor’s Cup champions by batting .296 with 37 hits, ripping eight doubles, driving in 23 runs.
Williams was again called up to the Yankees on September 14. In 12 games, Williams hit .296 in 27 at-bats while driving in two runs and picking up a double.
Williams is considered an excellent center fielder with a solid bat. He has good speed but has had mixed results when stealing bases. With that speed, though, he covers a lot of ground in center field. He also possesses a strong throwing arm. Williams needs to keep healthy to develop and fulfill the promise the Yankees saw in him when convincing him to skip college and sign a professional contract. He has the tools needed to be a solid outfielder, both in the field and at the plate. If he can remain healthy, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see him take advantage of the right field porch in the Yankees and hit a few more home runs than he did in the minors. With that said, his strength is hitting line drives and using his speed.
With time seen with the Yankees in 2015 and 2016, Williams will have a chance to make the team out of spring training. His best chance will come in right field with Jacoby Ellsbury and Brent Gardner firmly established in the other two outfield spots. Williams may not make the team out of spring training with Aaron Judge, Tyler Wade and Rob Refsnyder and others in the mix. However, with the track record of Ellsbury visiting the disabled list and if Williams himself can remain healthy, he may see significant time with the Yankees.