PAWTUCKET – The parent club of the Norfolk Tides is scheduled to play a three-game series at Fenway Park on the final weekend of the 2019 season.
It’s something that Mason Williams has his sights firmly set on, as the Pawtucket native should.
With a batting average well over .300 – .316, to be specific – and single-season bests already established in both home runs (16) and RBI (60), Williams continues to cast himself in a favorable light when it comes to potentially joining the parent club Baltimore Orioles when September’s roster expansion rolls around.
“That’s the main goal,” said Williams while sitting in the visiting dugout at McCoy Stadium on Thursday morning. “Obviously, I want to keep my head above water and play well (with the Tides) and stay positive. The end result is to get back (to the majors).”
Set to celebrate his 28st birthday on Aug. 21, Williams capped off a banner homecoming with three hits in five at-bats and two runs as Norfolk completed a three-game sweep of the PawSox on Thursday, winning 8-2.
In three games against Pawtucket this week, Williams went 6-for-14 with five RBI. His crowning moment was a two-run home run that sailed over the right field fence in a hurry on Tuesday night. Williams’ professional baseball path has led him to McCoy for five consecutive seasons, yet Tuesday’s homer marked the first time he could trot around the bases in the ballpark he frequented as a youngster.
“Honestly, that meant a lot,” said Williams. “It was a great feeling.”
Once regarded as one of the game’s top outfield prospects, Williams has reached the stage in his career where it’s about finding a landing spot that’s pretty close to a sure thing. With 76 games at the MLB level to his credit, he also understands the path that a ballplayer must follow in order to put the minor-league lifestyle in the rearview mirror.
Last season, Williams appeared in 51 games with Cincinnati, producing a slash line of .293/.331/.398 with two homers. When spring training began, Williams was still property of the Reds. By late March, he was seeking a fresh start after getting cut by Cincinnati. The Orioles became his third organization in three seasons.
“For me, I would say that I try to embrace the adversity. In this game, there are a lot more downs than ups,” said Williams, who’s now hit safely in 14 of the past 15 games. “The hope is to get on a team where I feel like I can get back to the big leagues. Right now, I think the Orioles are a good fit. It’s also about controlling what I can control.”
As a minor leaguer, Williams is enjoying his best statistical season. His on-base percentage (.375) and slugging mark (.487) are well above his career averages. In short, he’s doing his part to make sure he’s part of Baltimore’s September plans.
“Honestly, I would say last year was my best year, getting (123) at-bats in the big leagues,” he said. “For me, I value that more than my numbers in Triple-A. I want to get back to the big leagues.”
Williams hasn’t hit more than 11 homers in a season since getting drafted by the New York Yankees in 2010. Thanks to the introduction of using the same baseballs as teams in the major leagues, Triple-A hitters like Williams have seen their power numbers reach greater heights. Still, he believes his increased totals are the result of becoming a more disciplined hitter.
“It’s nothing different as far as mechanically. It’s more about not missing the good pitches that I know that I’m supposed to hit,” he said. “I feel like I’ve gotten stronger and wiser and getting more used to the game and becoming more developed.”
For Williams, playing games in the same stadium he frequented as a Pawtucket youth never gets old.
“It’s always fun to come back home. This is a place I grew up at. It’s always surreal, too,” said Williams.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03