Yankees Outfield Prospect, Mason Williams

Born: 08/21/1991
Birthplace: Winter Garden, FL
Height: 6′ 0″
Weight: 150
Bats: L
Throws: R
Recently, an article on Yankees’ farmhand, Mason Williams, by a baseball writer caught my eye when someone decided to include the word “phenom” to his article’s title. That buzz word generally sparks an interest in a player from fans that love the game. Well, as a former scout, I’m no different.
My Mason Williams research concluded that he’s well on his way to being a 5 tool player. He does have good speed, a decent arm, can cover the outfield like a deer, has better than average eye-hand coordination to be a consistent, good contact hitter, but a phenom must be able to drive the ball. Can he drive the ball? Not yet. The Yankees acknowledge that his power is not there yet, but they project that it will be.
From looking at his 2011 video, it looks like the Yankees’ player development people, i.e., his minor league manager, hitting coach, and roving minor league hitting instructor, will be continuing to change his “swinging gate” swing into a power swing by firming up his front side and adding torque. Kevin Long, Yankees’ hitting coach, might even encourage Mason to model Curtis Granderson’s slightly over exaggerated front shoulder down and in stride combination to emphasize to Williams the need for him to stay closed longer.
I’d suggest some cross sport training with a torque and dynamic linking mechanical movement similar to power hitters. Pitchers have done something similar with Dr. Tom House’s football throwing drills to help improve their mechanics. I’ve been using shot and discus power position dry throws(w/o implements) for years with success with hitters. The hitters get a muscle memory feel for coiling during their stride and landing phase and the dynamic linking occurring while uncoiling(like individual firecrackers going off one by one in sequence) after their launching phase begins in their swing.

As a side note that’s related to torque. Scouts have unique terminology that’s occasionally used among their organization’s scouts. Sometimes, we’d say suspects for prospects and zeros, NP’s, or blobs for no prospects, etc. Years ago after seeing Christopher Walken in a Saturday Night Live skit saying “It needs more cowbell”, I started saying “needs more cowbell” when I saw a hitter with less than a 5 on his power. No, I never wrote it on an actual scouting report that was turned in. I knew better, but for some reason that old thought of missing torque/needs more cowbell popped into my head during my analysis of Mason Williams. That being said, even if he doesn’t ever become the power hitter the Yankees hope for, he will be an exceptionally good player on the Yankees’ major league roster one day.


Jose Campos’ Mechanics Breakdown

ose Vicente (Carnota) Campos

Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 4″, Weight: 195 lb.
Born: July 27, 1992 in La Guaira, VE (Age 19)
Minor League Service Time: 2 years

The Seattle Mariners traded Jose along with Michael Pineda last week to the New Yankees for Hector Noesi and Jesus Montero.  I’ve previously written scouting reports and mini mechanical breakdowns of Montero, Noesi, and Pineda. Now it’s time to take a good look at Campos…the only weak link in the chain.
Even though he is only 19 years old, I’ve spotted four major flaws in his delivery that will be extremely difficult to repair and/or overcome to become an innings eating starting pitcher for the New York Yankees in the future. These mechanical flaws will cause Jose to have major shoulder issues.

Due to this factor, I project Jose to be better suited to be a relief pitcher rather than a starter. The length of his career as a reliever will be dependent on the number of his game appearances in a season, the number of pitches he throws in an appearance, and the number of times he appears in relief in a series which will be very limited due to the extra recovery time he’ll need due to shoulder trauma.

A closer look at the mechanical problems…
He does not achieve maximum leg drive and begins his turn & arm action early.
His stride foot lands flat (sometimes on his heel) and fairly consistently open- negating his hip rotation.
His follow through is high -negating leverage especially on breaking pitches, but also affecting control accuracy and also, decreasing hip rotation even more.
His deceleration on his follow through-which is somewhat violent.
In short, I don’t see the easy motion some say he pitches with. Instead, I see someone who is throwing mostly with their arm, and will have a shortened career due to shoulder injuries from poor mechanics. I’ll let you be the judge on how this factors into the trade.

Summer League Hitting Routine

On Deck Circle
Begin mental prepping with your pre-pitch Hitting Mantra while reinforcing your muscle memory with the MP30 Training Bat


Repeat before the 1st pitch and after each sequential pitch…
Outside box if league rules allow:
      Situational Awareness:
          Know outs and base runners’ locations
      Depth Perception Tune Up:
          Focus on 2B’s cap logo, then shift focus to Pitcher’s cap logo
          Begin Pre-Pitch Personal Hitting Mantra (See Hitting Mantra/Mental
          Routine Blog)
          Night Game… Close eyes for 5 seconds for improved vision  (See
          Retina/Vision Trick)
In box or “half and half” if league rules allow:
      One Deep Breath…In through the nose; out through pursed lips
      Look to third base coach, receive signs, square up to the pitcher, and re-focus
      Begin Fine Centering-Soft Centering (Focus on Pitcher’s Logo & then re-focus
      visually to the Release Point  (Avoid being hypnotized by watching the Pitcher’s
      Gently shift your weight from back to front repeatedly over your center
      point (40-60) as you are fine centering and soft centering visually. Continue the
      rhythm rocking breathing in through the nose going back and breathing out  
      through a slightly open mouth going forward. This keeps the jaw relaxed to
      prevent teeth clinching which can lead to blurred vision. Plus, on contact
      keeping the internal organs compressed through breath control helps to optimize
      power. (Key emphasis is to do this simultaneously with a controlled, calculated
      rhythmic weight shift.)
      From Release Point:
         Identify pitch and velocity
         Begin Tracking  Mentally…Yes, Yes, Yes, YES* or Yes, Yes, Yes, NO.
         *(At contact, squeezing the handle in the palms helps add more power
         as a result of a neuromuscular response)
Post Hit:
       In the dugout, enjoy the congratulations and the pats on the back. Reward
       yourself with a cup of water. Funny as it sounds, you should do this.
 (behavioral conditioning)                 


Pitching is more than just throwing.
Learn the hitting flaws.
Then learn how to pitch to the specific flaw.
If you’re at the Little League level, eventually your catcher will learn the flaws, too. Right now he’s learning to receive, block pitches, set defenses, and busy watching the hitter’s feet and bat speed while tracking your pitch.
Pitching coaches and pitchers have their own language and sayings to get the message across:
Sit and Drive…Land at a 45   
“Sitting” helps you to not “rush”, but instead, stay balanced in your delivery. As you step toward home plate, stride so that the ball of your lead foot and toe will land at a 45 degree angle. This ensures proper hip rotation after your lead foot lands, and that you’ll be using your legs as well as your arm in your pitching mechanics.
Push, pop…over the top…leaves you with pep in your step
The push is the balanced push off of the pitching plate (pitcher’s rubber). Pop is a term for the hip rotation after landing the front foot at a 45 degree angle during the delivery.
“Over the top” is the action of the trailing foot in a complete follow through (this happens naturally after your pitching arm elbow passes by the opposite knee following your delivery). Hence, after your elbow passes your knee in your follow through, your throwing side foot will rise above your throwing side hip without any extra effort on your part. This is what pitching coaches actually mean when they say “bend your back” in regards to a follow through.
Leaves you with pep in your step
This just means that you’ll have more endurance/stamina because you’re using your legs and your body to pitch with…instead of just using your arm.
Shoulder to shoulder makes your pitches bolder
For control of your pitches, your front shoulder heads (points) to the location you want your pitch to go. After delivery, your back shoulder will point toward the same target that your front should was targeted at… which greatly improves control accuracy and will occur naturally with the correct follow through. This is what pitching coaches call “full rotation”.
Bolder pitches means that you’ll spot your pitches to areas that hitter’s have trouble hitting solidly (they prefer to hit the ones that are thrown over the middle ten inches of the plate in the strike zone).
Pitching to a dime* makes the hitter bitter
The mitt is not the target for the pitcher. It is better to throw (not aim) to a smaller target. A dime target is small, but if you miss- you’ll miss “small”. [Remember a pitcher targets areas away from the middle ten inches of the plate.] Instead of pitching in the middle of the plate, you’ll focus on the catcher’s knees and shoulders since they are usually outside of the middle ten inches of the plate. Therefore, visualize and concentrate (focus) on a dime located on the catcher’s knees and shoulders as targets before and during the delivery of your pitch. *Also, contrary to some coaches’ thinking, you’re never too young to develop this kind of concentration skill… especially when pitching.
Any coach, on any level worth his salt, routinely has his pitchers practice pitching to a designated catcher. At each league level, from Little League to MLB, pitchers follow a Sequence Pitching Schedule. This is another important process to help pitchers develop arm strength, confidence, and command & control. During sequence pitching sessions, it’s imperative that the pitcher’s pitches are charted by a helper. This promotes a game like atmosphere…to simulate game like pressure.
Also, during the throwing session, the pitchers usually alternate throwing 5 pitches from a full windup and then 5 pitches from the stretch. The number of pitches thrown during a session depends on the number of days until the next scheduled appearance in a game. Once the number of pitches to be thrown during the session is determined, the catcher will call the type of pitch and the location for each pitch. On the Little League level, 1 is a fastball and 2 is a change. In higher levels of competition, more types of pitches are thrown, and the pitches are numbered respectively. Locations are also numbered on the catcher. The right and left knees of the catcher are numbered 1 and 2 & the right and left shoulders of the catcher are numbered 3 and 4. On a side note, since the pitcher is getting valuable feedback from a capable helper after the session, make sure the helper has a clip board with a pencil and paper that have rectangular strike zones with cubes inside the rectangles to note the location and type of pitch thrown during the session. For the benefit of the pitcher’s focus, the helper shouldn’t interact with the pitcher until after the throwing session. The helper will silently circle pitches that miss their spot and mark pitches that are on target during the session. It is recommended that punishment of some type for missing the called location be used to make the session more competitive among the pitchers on the team.
With seams, the pitch will sink. Across the seams, the pitch will not sink as much. Some will suggest that gripping a ball across the seams will make it rise. Even the best power pitchers don’t really have the ball rise when their grip is across the seams due to physics.
Choking the pitch will reduce the velocity. Also, choking the pitch is better for younger pitchers because it produces a natural change up. When a pitcher matures, usually when they start shaving, a pitcher can learn breaking pitches and other grips for a change up.

Your ultimate goal as a pitcher is to keep the hitter off balance by changing the speed and location of your pitches. Be stoic & never show your emotions in a game when you are pitching. Do this and you will have an edge over the hitters you face.

Mental Prepping Your At Bat

t’s true that you get your hit before you even get in the box and face the pitcher. If your coach doesn’t have a sign posted near the on deck circle to remind his hitters of this, then it’s up to the hitter be aware and unsterstand the importance of it. A teenage hitter and older should develop hitting thoughts as part of his/her mental routine and repeat them until they become part of the subconscious. Because these thoughts are repeated so often in training and then again before and after each pitch in a game as part of a recycling routine, these thoughts become more like a mantra. This is why it was convenient for me to call this mental thought routine a Hitting Mantra or HM for short. As a hitter, you should develop and personalize a Hitting Mantra to match your hitting goals. Email me if you want help with a holistic approach to creating your own HM.