The Rays have promoted outfielder Justin Williams to the major league club for the first time, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. To make room for him on the active roster, they’ve optioned lefty reliever Hoby Milner to Triple-A.
Williams, who’ll turn 23 next month, was the Diamondbacks’ second round pick in the 2013 draft. He came to the Rays as part of the return for sending right-hander Jeremy Hellickson to Arizona, and has posted above-average offensive numbers at every level of the minor leagues since then. At the Triple-A level so far this year, Williams has posted a .276/.323/.392 slash with a 6.7% walk rate and a 21.0% strikeout rate. At the Double-A level last season, he managed to hit .301/.364/.489 across 409 plate appearances.
MLB Pipeline ranks Williams among the club’s top ten prospects, checking in at #8. Though he hit a career-high 14 home runs last season, the publication notes that scouts expect him to develop more pop in his bat due to the fact that he still hits a lot of ground balls; something that could change as he continues to improve his swing. Baseball America describes him as a hitter who makes consistent contact and manages the strike zone well, in part due to improving pitch recognition. BA goes on to say that he turns on inside pitches well but may need to make some adjustments in order to do a better job covering the outside of the plate.