Get To Know: Twins 1B Prospect Chris Williams
Image courtesy of Mike Gallagher (photo of Chris Williams)Chris Williams grew up in Southern California. Following high school, he spent a year at a junior college before heading across the country to play in South Carolina at a big-time Division 1 school. He played first base and third base. In 2017, he was the Tigers’ catcher. This spring, the team need was for him at first base, and that is the position that he has played for the Elizabethton Twins.
Thank you to Chris Williams for taking time to respond to our questions. Please feel free to discuss and ask more questions in our comment section below.
Seth Stohs (SS): Growing up in Southern California, who was your favorite team to follow? Who were some of your favorite players?
Chris Williams (CW): My favorite team was the Angels. I went to countless games growing up and have memories since I was a little kid watching the Angels play. Growing up my favorite Angel players were Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero.
SS: What were some of the better memories of your high school baseball career? Did you play other sports or were you involved in other activities?
CW: When i look back at high school and think of the times I had the most fun and enjoyed baseball, it was when i was playing high school baseball with some of my best friends and not taking baseball too seriously at a level that is meant to be both competitive but fun. It was fun having all my friends in the stands and hanging out with them after the games.
SS: What were a couple of your highlights from your three college years at Clemson?
CW: It’s not my highlight, but a highlight that always sticks out to me is winning the ACC Championship in 2016. That was one of the the coolest moments of my baseball career and is something I will never forget. Also, hitting a home run in our regional. Our fans did a great job of supporting us, and it was an amazing feeling to hit a home run in that environment.
SS: What was the recruitment process like for you out of high school, and was there any question that you wanted to go to Clemson?
CW: I actually didn’t have any D1 offers out of high school. I went to a junior college in Huntington Beach, California, named Golden West College for a year. After my freshman year, I decided to leave and pursue going to a four-year, D1 college. It was a lot of luck and being in the right place at the right time because I really didn’t have Clemson in my mind for a school I wanted to go to. I mean I just didn’t think that was an opportunity. However, Clemson gave me a call and asked if I was interested in leaving California and going to South Carolina to play baseball. All I can remember was being dumbfounded and thinking, What does South Carolina even look like? I had never left home for more than three weeks. But I took a leap of faith, and it was the best three years of my life.
SS: Did you have the chance to speak with many scouts before the draft? What was your interaction with the Twins scout?
CW: I spoke with a few, but I was getting ready for a regional and didn’t want to concern myself too much with the draft. So I let my agent handle most of the calls. The scout that drafted me was Matt Williams, and I only spoke briefly with him. He has been a great help with this whole transition, and I am grateful for the opportunity.
SS: The Twins took you in the eighth round. How did you find out that you had been drafted? How busy was your phone at that moment?
CW: I was out eating lunch with my dad and some of my best friends when I started getting a lot of calls from different teams asking if this amount was OK and stuff like that. I thought I was going to get picked by another team when the Twins called and said they had taken me in the eighth round. It was a great feeling to have my name called and to have some of my best friends and my dad right there to celebrate with me.
SS: What has the adjustment been like for you so far, from the college game to the professional game, both on and off the field?
CW: I mean, immediately, playing every day has been an adjustment. In college, you only played four games a week, plus a mandatory day off. Also, you can take it easy at practice before a big weekend. Here, you play games every day, and you can’t check out mentally because every at-bat matters. You don’t want to throw at-bats away. Also, everyone is good at this level. Every at bat is a battle and the game is slightly faster.
SS: You have put up strong power numbers in Elizabethton. Are you at all surprised to have experienced such success already, and what do you think has been the biggest reason for the success?
CW: I’m definitely a little pleasantly surprised because I didn’t really have any expectations for this summer. I was just excited to get my feet wet and told myself to focus on the process because this is all going to be a brand new transition and I didn’t want to get overwhelmed. However, I trusted that my experiences in college would get me ready for my future in professional baseball and so far I feel like it has.
SS: At this very early stage in your career, what would you say are your biggest strengths?
CW: We play cards everyday, and I’m really good at 13. Best player in the clubhouse.
SS: What are the areas of your game that you would like to spend time working to improve?
CW: : My arm. I’m still coming back from shoulder surgery and it is definitely something I need to improve upon.
SS: What do you have planned for the offseason? What was your major in school?
CW: I plan on going back to Clemson this offseason and train there. They have great facilities where I can work out and train for the next season. In college, I was a business management major. Don’t ask me “”What do you plan on doing with it?” because I still have no clue.
SS: Who are some of the people who have helped you get to this point in your career?
CW: Two people who have helped me tremendously are my dad and my head coach at Clemson, Monte Lee. The reason I even had the opportunity to go to Clemson and pursue a professional career is because of my dad. He raised me to work hard and be humble in the process. I’ve had to work hard for everything I’ve achieved and I wouldn’t be that way without my dad. Coach Lee has been a huge role model for me the past three years. His passion and determination are unmatched, and it was a pleasure to play under him. He’s an outstanding coach but a better teacher. He made sure his players left Clemson ready for the real world. I believe most players were ready, and it was thanks to him.
SS: Favorite baseball movie?
CW: Bull Durham and Everybody Wants Some
Again, a big Thank You to Chris Williams for taking time to answer our questions here. Williams and the Elizabethton Twins travel to Burlington, North Carolina, for their next series.
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