Williamson could power up Giants soon

Outfield prospect expected to open season in Triple-A

Williamson could power up Giants soon

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After playing for the Giants at three professional classifications, participating for Team USA in the Pan American Games and performing in the Arizona Fall League, outfielder Mac Williamson wanted one thing as 2015 drew to a close.

A rest? No, more baseball.

Included in Williamson's remarkable itinerary, which spanned 11 months, was a 10-game stint with San Francisco at the end of the season. That was enough to whet the 25-year-old's appetite for elite competition.

"Having a little bit of a break, I was hungry to get back at it," said Williamson, who is ranked the club's No. 7 prospect. "The big leagues makes you see what you're playing for. You don't ever want to slack off, but when you see what your ultimate goal is, it's unbelievable."

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Though the Giants possess a fully stocked starting outfield, complemented by top reserve Gregor Blanco, the sense is growing that Williamson could arrive in San Francisco sooner than later. He generates an extremely valuable commodity -- power -- with his 6-foot-4 frame. That intrigues the Giants to no end. The organization has excelled at developing catchers, infielders and pitchers. Producing a legitimate slugger in recent years has eluded them, but Williamson, who'll probably open the season starting for Triple-A Sacramento, provides hope for a breakthrough.

"He's a very imposing figure, that's for sure," said Andy Skeels, the Giants' roving hitting coordinator. "If he barrels the ball, it's going someplace. Real hard and real fast."

Williams' RBI single

The pace of Williamson's apparent progress is a welcome contrast to 2014, when Tommy John elbow surgery limited him to 23 games with Class A Advanced San Jose. That followed a promising season in which Williamson hit .292 with 25 home runs and 89 RBIs for San Jose. Williamson acknowledged that missing essentially an entire year tried his patience.

"But it definitely makes you mentally stronger," he said.

Williamson's choppy swing presented the Giants with another issue. He proved that he understood his flaw by articulating it nicely: "If you're swinging down on the ball and the ball's coming down at an angle, there's a finite point where you can make contact, whereas if you're able to match that plane of the ball with the plane of your bat, you allow yourself to have a lot more room for error."

After batting .293 in 69 games for Double-A Richmond to begin last season, Williamson hit .249 in 54 games at Sacramento. But he hit eight homers in 227 plate appearances at Triple-A, compared with five homers in 290 plate appearances with Richmond. His power was returning.

Williamson's RBI triple

Williamson welcomed his Pan Am Games experience, though he didn't play much.

"It was cool to have a little bit of a break there," he said.

After Sacramento's season ended, Williamson began preparing for his Arizona Fall League assignment with Scottsdale when the Giants, undermanned due to a plethora of injuries, summoned him. He hit .219 (7-for-32) in the Majors, then indicated he was capable of more by batting .370 in 19 AFL games to help Scottsdale win the league title.

"He really hasn't played that much, and it's hard to build a consistent, repeatable swing when you get interrupted," Skeels said. "But I think last year was a great starting point for him."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.