Mets’ prospect Jett Williams struggling to begin 2023

Jett Williams Mets

The Mets have recently started their youth movement by promoting former top prospects Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos during the last few weeks. That has led to major turnover at the top of the Mets prospect list which now features 19-year-old shortstop Jett Williams. 

The Mets’ 2022 first-round pick played just 10 minor league games last year after being drafted out of Rockwall-Heath high school in Heath, Texas. The team then sent him to St.Lucie to start 2023, where things have not gotten off to a great start for the Mets’ now 3rd-ranked prospect. 

Through the first 29 games, Williams is hitting .208/.405/.292 with one home run, 12 runs scored, 10 RBI, and 10 steals. 

While the batting average has been poor, what immediately jumps out is his impressive on-base percentage. Williams has drawn 25 walks in 29 games and has always possessed a strong understanding of the strike zone.

According to Down on the Farm, a minor league baseball-focused Substack, Williams had an impressive 9% whiff rate and a 13% chase rate during his high school career. He also posted a 1.0 groundball-to-flyball ratio and a .490 slugging percentage overall, which suggests that there is more power in his bat than he’s currently showing. 

However, power is certainly not a major component of Williams’ game. 

Standing at just 5’6″ and weighing 175 pounds, the 14th overall pick in last year’s draft has solid power for his side due to his compact swing and slight lift in his launch angle which helps him to get to his power. 

Yet, according to Down on the Farm, Williams’s 95th percentile exit velocity this season is just 102.7 MPH, which puts him in the 44th percentile amongst Florida State League hitters. 

Jett Williams Mets
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA – MARCH 18, 2023: Jett Williams #4 of the New York Mets in the field during a minor league game spring training game against the Houston Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 18, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

However, considering he is a plus runner, he can certainly succeed without hitting the ball incredibly hard. We’re currently seeing Oakland Athletics outfielder Esteury Ruiz hit .284 with 25 stolen bases in 50 games despite having a 2.5% barrel rate and an average exit velocity of 84.3 mph.

The Mets would obviously love to see Williams get to his power a little more regularly, and one way for that to happen would be for him to be more aggressive at the plate. 

As you can tell from the triple-slash numbers above, Williams is overly passive at the plate. While that can lead to above-average walk numbers, it also leads to him taking strikes and getting himself into pitchers’ counts. As he moves up in the Mets’ minor league system, opposing pitchers are going to throw more strikes and Williams is going to find himself behind in far more counts if he doesn’t start looking to pounce on good pitches early in the count. 

Considering Williams is just 19 years old, he certainly has plenty of time to tweak his plate approach, but the Mets are also going to need to decide where to play him in the field.

He currently has a .889 fielding percentage at shortstop and doesn’t grade out well there. With Francisco Lindor currently in New York and Ronny Mauricio knocking on the door, Williams’ mediocre defensive abilities at short make it likely that he moves to either second base or center field. It’s unlikely the Mets will make that change now, but it is something that the team is going to need to consider in the coming years. 

For now, it’s too early to react to a poor start to the season, but there will need to be some tweaks for Williams to make good on the upside that many scouts believe he has. He’ll likely get plenty of time to work that out with Low-A St. Lucie this year. 

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