The Pirates are selecting the contract of infield prospect Alika Williams from Triple-A Indianapolis, reports Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The 24-year-old will be making his MLB debut whenever he takes the field.
Williams, acquired from the Rays in the trade that sent righty Robert Stephenson to Tampa Bay, was the No. 37 overall draft pick by the Rays in 2020. After a tough stretch in Double-A with the Rays, where he hit .237/.314/.417 (93 wRC+) in 175 plate appearances, Williams is batting .305/.384/.531 (126 wRC+) in 148 Triple-A plate appearances with the Bucs. He’s trimmed his strikeout rate from 19.4% in Double-A to 14.9% in Triple-A, while his walk rate has crept up from 8.4% to 10.1%.
Scouting reports on Williams have typically pegged him as a glove-first option at shortstop with plus speed and minimal power. He’s popped a career-high 12 home runs in the minors this season, however, adding another 19 doubles and a triple. On the basepaths, he’s 6-for-8.
If he’s able to continue that surprising power output at the big league level, it’s possible Williams could eventually outperform the generally modest expectations that peg him as a potential utility infielder at the big league level. Even if he winds up as more of a contact- and defense-oriented infielder, however, his glove at short and ability to handle either second base or third base would give him a good chance to carve out a spot on a big league bench.
The Bucs are dealing with a potential injury of note for utilityman Tucupita Marcano, as Justice de los Santos of MLB.com tweeted last night that Marcano was pulled from the game with what appears to be a ligament injury in his knee. If Marcano is indeed headed to the injured list, Williams could step into his bench spot and see occasional work around an infield that’s currently relying on young options like Jared Triolo (25), Nick Gonzales (24) and Liover Peguero (22) at third base, second base and shortstop while starters Ke’Bryan Hayes and Oneil Cruz are on the injured list.