Prospect: Nonie Williams Rank: 7
2015/16: UR Position(s): Shortstop
Level: Rookie Ball Age: Entering Age 19 season in 2017.
Height: 6’2” Weight: 200 lb.
Present – Future
Hitting Ability 40 50
Power 50 65
Base Running 65 60
Patience 40 50
Fielding 50 50
Range 50 50
Arm 60 65
Overall 45 55
Floor: Utility Infielder in the high minors.
Ceiling: All-star caliber infielder or outfielder.
Likely Outcome: A starting third baseman in MLB.
Summary: Nonie Williams may have the highest upside of any player in the Angels minor league system. And believe it or not, that actually means something now, with other upside prospects like Jahmai Jones, Matt Thaiss, Brandon Marsh and Michael Hermosillo in the system. While he was taken in the third round of the draft, the consensus was that the Angels genuinely got a steal when they scooped up Williams. It is true that several sourced had Nonie ticketed for the second round, and it’s also true the Angels signed him for borderline first round money. That’s what it costs to get someone with Williams potential. Had Williams waited one more year, it’s hard to say where he might’ve gone in the draft. He technically would’ve been a high school senior but because of home-schooling schedules being slightly modified, he’d also be 19 years old instead of 18 like the rest of the prospects he’d be compared with. The age difference certain could’ve hurt him, but one additional year of development, one additional year of scouts having the opportunity to come watch him play, it’s likely Nonie would’ve left the board in the first round.
Upon reaching the Angels training facility, they immediately realized what they have, may truly be special. It starts and ends with his bat speed, which has long been observed but only recently quantified. Not only did Williams come with the highest bat speed in the 2016 draft class, but also the highest amount of bat speed in perhaps all of minor league baseball. We’ve yet to fully understand whether or not this will transfer over to game time production, sometimes it does sometimes it doesn’t. But what we do know is that it makes for a potential offensive juggernaut. Comparable bat speeds in the last five years are Randal Grichuk and Bryce Harper, who both are incredibly strong individuals, but as we’ve seen, sometimes it just doesn’t transfer into the game. So we’ll see with Williams.
Nonie’s intangibles are off the charts, but in a more tangible sense, his foot speed, bat speed and power are very well charted, and very impressive. He has the chance to hit 30 homers in the future and steal 30 bases. While he began his career as a shortstop, few scouts envision this being Nonie’s permanent home. He has the athleticism, arm strength and glove to stick at shortstop, but not necessarily the grace or range. It’s for this reason scouts openly wonder where his future home may be. He has the size and tools of a third baseman, but the range to potentially be an excellent second baseman as well. There’s also some talk of moving out to the outfield. As of right now, third base and second base seem the likeliest future homes for Nonie. Williams is a switch hitter and offers different looks from each side. From the right hand side, Williams is more contact oriented, with a more line-drive approach. From the left side his natural power comes into play and he whips the bat through the zone with eye-popping speed and loft. This swing is longer and more prone to a swing and miss, but there also seems to be more power from the left-handed side.
Most of the time, there’s at least some discussion as to whether a player will hit for power or not, but with Nonie, there’s only observation. He has the strength to hit oppo homers or turn on a ball. Williams can also fly down the line. It isn’t a freight train type of fly like Mike Trout or a dear gracefully gliding across the land like Peter Bourjos was, but it is somewhere in between. There’s effort, but as Williams gets bigger and stronger, he’ll likely lose a step, which is fine, he’ll always likely have above average speed, at least until his mid-30’s if he’s fortunate to still be playing ball. While Nonie’s numbers from this past season aren’t terribly impressive (.244 BA, gap power and speed, but no home runs and poor plate discipline), he continued to improve as the year went on, enough so that there shouldn’t be any cause for concern.
What to expect next season: Nonie should be ticketed for Orem next season, though there is some talk about him making the jump to A Ball. While the talent is certainly there, I’d expect Williams to continue to refine his approach at the plate in the Pioneer League in 2017. It’ll be interesting to see where the Angels decide to play him. It usually isn’t good to move players around too much this early in their professional career, as it’s a lot to take in, so the Angels won’t give him the utility role just yet. But my guess is Williams will play the majority of his games at third base in the future. As for the pace of his development, that’s really dictated by his own progression. Being as raw as Nonie is, it’s probably best to simplify the game by keeping him at shortstop for now, and allowing him to really get his feet under him by spending an additional season in short season ball in Orem. I know Angels fans are likely clamoring to get this upside talent into A Ball as soon as they can, but with guys like Williams, you just have to let them grow first.
Estimated Time of Arrival: 2021, as a 23 year old.