On the night before his first professional baseball game in New York City, Mets prospect Jett Williams received a rude awakening — quite literally.
His whirlwind first full season, during which he zoomed from Low-A to Double-A, included a month-plus layover with High-A Brooklyn. Suffice to say getting dropped into the five boroughs was a new experience for Williams, a 19-year-old Texan.
“It was a little weird,” Williams said. “For me, where I’m from, it’s just quiet. When I got to Brooklyn, it was nothing but honks, sirens going off.
“The funny thing is the first day I was in Brooklyn, I woke up like five times in the night — sirens, honking going on. I was like, it’s 3 a.m., what could people be honking about? So it was definitely different. But very enjoyable.”
He might want to get used to all that noise. A poor night of sleep was about the only thing that went wrong this season for Williams, who was at Citi Field on Thursday to be honored as the Mets’ minor-league player of the year.
His .263/.425/.451 slash line across three levels portrayed his campaign well: some power out of his 5-foot-6, 175-pound frame, plus lots of walks thanks to a keen batting eye that was among the reasons the Mets drafted him 14th overall last season.
Williams’ 104 walks — plus six more in the Eastern League playoffs, he noted — were the most of any Mets minor-leaguer. He became the first teenager to lead the organization in walks since David Wright in 2002. That ability to get on base paired nicely with his 45 steals.
“If I don’t get my pitch, don’t swing,” Williams said. “It’s a lot easier said than done, obviously. I’m very aggressive when it’s my pitch, but if it’s not my pitch, I’ll just take it.
“It’s just God-given ability to read the pitches out of the pitcher’s hand. A lot of times I like to look at videos of pitchers before the games and go from there, see the release height and everything. Ever since I was in high school, I just knew that I had a really, really good eye at the plate. I’m not going to chase or swing at bad pitches.”
Along the way, Williams, a shortstop, played about one out of every five defensive games in centerfield, part of the Mets’ “opportunities for him to expand his versatile profile,” as general manager Billy Eppler put it in April. Since the club has Francisco Lindor under contract through 2031, shortstop prospects will need to find other positions if they are to become big-league contributors with the Mets.
Asked where he sees himself in the future, Williams also mentioned second base, a spot he hasn’t played professionally.
“Whatever helps me get to the big leagues the fastest,” he said.
His intention is to continue his quick climb. In talking about the offseason, he said he wants to be “doing whatever I can to make the big leagues next year.” If he does so, he would be the first 20-year-old to reach the majors with the Mets since . . . well, since Francisco Alvarez just last year.
“I feel like that’s definitely a reachable goal,” Williams said. “Obviously, it’s a very hard goal, just because that’s the end goal, that’s where everybody wants to end up. Being 19 years old and finishing in Double-A, that was my proudest moment and that was a goal I had at the beginning of the season.”