Since being acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates in May, middle infield prospect Alika Williams has been performing well for Triple-A Indianapolis
The Pittsburgh Pirates made a small trade when they sent relief pitcher Robert Stephenson to the Tampa Bay Rays for one of their former first round picks. That prospect was infielder Alika Williams, who was the Tampa Bay's 2020 first round selection. Williams didn’t have much expectations for the Pirates, as he had not done much with the bat leading up to the acquisition.
Prior to the trade, Williams was just a .254/.331/.383 batter. While he was never considered a power prospect, a .130 ISO was not cutting it. It doesn’t help the hit tool hadn’t developed as they had hoped, with a .254 batting average. Williams did have a respectable .331 OBP, 18.4% strikeout rate, and 9.4% walk rate, but, overall, he was a below average hitter while in the Rays’ system. He had just a 94 wRC+.
Williams was at the Rays’ Double-A affiliate at the time of the trade, but was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis once acquired by the Bucs. However, Williams has unexpectedly done very good for himself with the stick since the acquisition, and could make him an underrated prospect to watch.
Since his acquisition, Williams is batting .288/.377/.470. That’s a .847 OPS, which is a 133 point uptick from his days in the Ray system. He’s walked ten times in 77 plate appearances and has just seven strikeouts, but Williams has hit for a surprising amount of power too. The infielder clocks in with three home runs and doubles, and a .182 isolated slugging percentage.
He’s been on fire over the last few weeks. Since June 20th, Williams owns a .424/.413/.758. He’s walked a whopping six times in his last 39 plate appearances with just three strikeouts. All three of his home runs have come in the last six games. He also has two doubles.
Williams has solely played both middle infield positions as a professional player. He was splitting his time between shortstop and second base with Tampa Bay's Double-A team pre-trade, but has almost only played short for Indy. But if Williams were to play regularly, he’d likely be a finalist for a Gold Glove handful of times.
We are still talking about a sample size of less than 100 plate appearances, so don’t get overly excited just yet. However, you can’t deny that Williams has done pretty good since the Pirates acquired him, and has looked even better the last two weeks. It would be nice for Williams to become an unexpected contestant for consistent playing up the middle for the Major League team this year.