LA Angels News

Former LA Angels top prospect Nonie Williams trying to figure things out

By David Rice
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 24: Kole Calhoun #56 of the Los Angeles Angels celebrates his solo homerun off of Ross Stripling #68 of the Los Angeles Dodgers, for a 2-0 lead, during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium on July 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 24: Kole Calhoun #56 of the Los Angeles Angels celebrates his solo homerun off of Ross Stripling #68 of the Los Angeles Dodgers, for a 2-0 lead, during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium on July 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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When the LA Angels drafted  outfielder Nonie Williams out of Turner High School in Kansas in the third round of the 2016 Amateur Draft they knew he was a special talent.  Since then the Angels have seen flashes of the talent from Nonie Williams, but he is still trying to put it altogether.

Drafting players out of high school is not an exact science.  The LA Angels have had some good success in seeing those diamonds in the rough such as Mike Trout, Jo Adell, and Brandon Marsh to name a few.  Justin Upton also came straight out of high school and was in the majors in two seasons just as Mike Trout was for the Angels, but they are the exception rather than the norm. So Angels prospect Nonie Williams has the odds stacked against him to a point.

Cam Bedrosian and Ty Buttrey took five and eight years respectively to reach the majors after being drafted out of high school.  If you think about it, it makes sense as most players who go straight into the minors out of high school are usually 17 or 18 years old.  When someone graduate college they are usually 22 to 24 years old that is a four year to six year gap which means that despite being drafted in 2016 Nonie Williams is not far behind the average high school player who is drafted.

“It’s a lot different coming straight out of high school. The minor leagues have much tougher competition than Kansas high school baseball, so it has been an adjustment,” Williams said. “Offensive-wise, defensive-wise, the pitching is way tougher than high school. The good thing about baseball is there is always tomorrow. You have a lot chances get back out there and improve.”

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Williams has shown he can hit for power, he has tremendous speed, and has a great arm in the outfield. His biggest problem so far has plate discipline.  In 851 at-bats in his three-plus seasons in the minors he has struck out 294 and only walked 94 times.  That means that Williams has struck out over one-third of the time he has been up (once every three at-bats).  This has caused Williams batting average and OBP to be very allow in each of his first four seasons for the Angels. Williams career batting average in .208 and his OBP is .294 which are both well below what you would hope for.  However, he has still not even turned 21 years old, so there is still time for Williams to develop into the player the Angels saw when they drafted him.

Up until this season Nonie Williams had not played more than 43 games in any season compared to the 106 games he has already played in 2019.  This year Williams has hit six homers driving in 37 runs and he has also stolen 19 bases.  Overall in his career he has stolen 40 bases and only has been caught 13 times, which shows that Williams is not just fast, but is also a smart baserunner.

“My speed is my greatest strength. I feel I use my speed very well in all aspects of the game,” said Williams. “I’m just trying to get better every day and improve on the areas where I have weaknesses.  I have a lot of day-to-day goals for the short-term, but I don’t worry about advancing to the next level.  I’m just trying to build some consistency. I don’t look what number I am on the prospect list or if I’m not on the list.  Those things are out of your control.  I just try to play hard every day and have a good attitude.”

Sunday afternoon Williams had his best games of the season record his first three hit game of the season going 3 for 5 with a home run and four runs scored.  Over the past week Williams is hitting .308 (8 for 26) raising his batting average 15 points.  While Williams’ numbers are still less than stellar he is showing signs that he is starting to slowly figure things out.  He is still only 20 years old and has plenty of time to develop.

Next. JAred Walsh is trying to find consistency to stay in the majors.

So what should Angels know about Nonie Williams?

“I am a tough baseball player and I play the game hard every day,” Williams said. “I have been blessed to have a manager like Jack (Howell) who has been through exactly what we are going through and he has the answers to almost anything. I am learning a lot about the game and hopefully the positive results will keep coming. It would be a dream come true to play alongside the best player in baseball in Mike Trout and be in the major leagues one day.”

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