BOSTON -- The play looked like a routine dive back into first base, something that Mason Williams had done countless times during his professional career. His initial reaction was to shrug it off and assume that two days of rest would be enough to get him back in the lineup.
More than a year later, having recovered from a surgical procedure that ended his 2015 season, Williams is once again wearing a Yankees uniform. It comes with the opportunity to prove that he belongs in the conversation with the rest of the Baby Bombers youth movement.
"I just want to play my game," Williams said. "I just want to be me out there. I feel like if I'm myself, good things can happen."
They did on Friday, as Williams logged his first big league start of the season and went 2-for-3 with a run scored while making a leaping catch in right field that took an extra-base hit away from the Red Sox's Travis Shaw.
Williams was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this week when Yankees prospect Aaron Judge went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique. Though Williams' callup might not have happened without Judge's injury, manager Joe Girardi said that the club still believes in him.
"I still think he's a prospect," Girardi said. "I thought he came on strong last year, and it was unfortunate that he got hurt. He was playing at a pretty high level in Triple-A when we called him up."
A fourth-round pick in 2010, Williams was batting .296/.313/.376 in 31 Triple-A games and is rated as the Yankees' No. 22 prospect by MLBPipeline.com. He has been passed by several in the organization since June 19, 2015, when he jammed his shoulder diving back into the bag against the Tigers at Yankee Stadium.
Among those promising talents is the club's No. 1 prospect, outfielder Clint Frazier, who came to the Yankees in the Andrew Miller deal. Frazier helped Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre grab a Governors' Cup title on Friday, stroking two hits in a 3-0 victory over the Gwinnett Braves.
Other outfielders on the Pipeline depth chart include Judge (No. 4), Dustin Fowler (No. 12) and Billy McKinney (No. 15). Williams said that it has been encouraging to see so many players move up from Triple-A to the Majors this season.
"It's been extremely exciting; it's been fun, uplifting for everyone," Williams said. "Obviously we've been playing together for a while, so it's good to see all these guys."
Williams was pleased to hear of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre victory on Friday. Though it is a series that Williams expected to be playing in, he's happy to find himself cheering from afar with the opportunity to be included in the prospect conversation.
"Absolutely," Williams said. "I just want to come here and help the team win and play at a high level."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.