An ability to hit and steal bases props up his profile, sure, but [Mason]Williams is widely regarded as one of the game’s next best defensive center fielders. This came with work. After adjusting his throwing motion—moving from short, he raised his right arm’s slot to generate more back-spin on the baseball—Williams started learning the real nuances of his new spot: like focusing his gaze on home plate—all while standing, bended at both knees, 300 feet away.
“He is really athletic, but he also reads the ball off the bat and has an ability to project where it’s going to end up,” says Mark Newman, the Yankees’ senior vice president of baseball operations. “I don’t know how much of that is innate. I don’t know how much of that is the time he spends doing this, but he was really good when he signed with us, so if he started at a high level, he has improved.”