Name: Jett Williams
Weight: 175 lbs.
Acquired: 2022 MLB Draft, 1st Round (Rockwall-Heath High School, Texas)
2022 Stats: 10 G, 32 AB, .250/.366/.438, 8 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 BB, 6 K, 6/6 SB, .333 BABIP (Rookie)
Jett Williams has always been one of the smaller people on the field, if not the smallest. As a youngster, he played on Little League teams with and against children who were older than him and then, as a teen, he simply did not grow as much as his teammates on the Rockwell-Heath High School baseball team. His small statue and doubters have given Williams a chip on his shoulder and have only fueled Williams’ hard-nosed style of play. He made the Rockwall-Heath High School varsity baseball team as a freshman and helped lead them to state playoffs in virtually every season that he played for the Hawks. In his junior and senior years, arguably the most important for a high school player, he hit .347 with 5 home runs and 15 stolen bases and .411 with 7 home runs and 24 stolen bases, respectively.
The hard work he put in paid off, as he was considered one of the best talents available in the 2022 MLB Draft. With their second first-round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, the 14th overall pick, the Mets selected Williams. He signed roughly a week later, forgoing his commitment to Mississippi State University, agreeing to a $3,900,000 bonus, a few hundred thousand dollars less than the MLB-assigned slot value of $4,241,600. The 18-year-old was assigned to the FCL Mets to begin his professional career and appeared in 10 games for them in the month of August, hitting .250/.366/.438 with 1 home run, 6 stolen bases in as many attempts, and drawing 4 walks to 6 strikeouts.
At the plate, Williams has a very quiet setup. He stands square at the plate holding his hands low and his bat perpendicular to the ground. He strides to the ball using a slight leg kick, holding his hands back. He possesses plus bat speed, resulting in exit velocities that have been registered in the mid-90s, producing deep line drives that are sprayed all around the field. He has a good eye and quick hands, allowing him to lay off bad pitches and put good wood on both premium velocity and advanced spin.
Defensively, Williams makes use of his above-average, borderline plus speed. He moves well on the dirt, showing plenty of lateral range. He has soft hands and a smooth glove with the instinctive actions to stick at shortstop, though his footwork still needs more development. He was playing with an injured shoulder for parts of 2021 and 2022, resulting in scouts and evaluators failing to get a good read on his arm strength and accuracy. Some believe that his arm is solid average for the position when fully healthy, and as a result, Williams will stick at shortstop for many years to come, while others believe that his arm is fringier and he will wind up at a different position. With his speed, center field would be the most obvious second home.
A short guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder? Sign me up! While analytically minded, I have come around to the concept that there are some intangibles that really just really can’t be quantifiably measured in any meaningful way, and grission is one of those things. Given the lack of a track record and the handful of questions about how much in-game power he’ll be able to generate, I was a little conservative with my ranking of him, but Williams could very conceivably become my number one prospect in the system this time next year.
I adore Jett Williams. He’s the clear third best prospect for me (in the traditional sense, 4th counting Senga), a somewhat controversial stance given industry consensus on Kevin Parada (who I also like a lot, to be clear). A common refrain you heard during the draft process was that if Williams was 6’0”, he’d be going in the top-3 or top-5. Well I don’t really care about hitter height, and if the quality of contact and plate discipline metrics underlying his amateur performance are real - and they’re reportedly elite in both regards - I’ll gladly plant my flag as the high man here. I see him sticking in CF longterm and becoming a strong hitter with perhaps mediocre power but excellent speed that allows him to excel defensively and on the basepaths.
Ironically someone I wasn’t super high on pre-draft, I started to come around on him as the process went on. He has great bat to ball skills, and while being a shortstop in high school will probably end up moving to 2nd base or center field. Either way, he will provide versatility on defense and an ability to make hard contact on offense. He’s also supremely athletic: the only thing holding him back is his height, which could be overcome.