Jett Williams sets goals for future success

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Jett Williams’ journey in baseball is marked by his determination, goal-setting and evident growth as a player. Starting from his days attending Rockwell-Heath High School in Texas, he established a tradition of setting and pursuing his objectives by writing them on a board. This practice continues to shape his career today.

His aspirations included achieving personal benchmarks, such as stealing 70 bases in a season or achieving a batting average of .500 during high school. Commitment to these goals reflects his ambition and dedication to developing as a player.

“Waking up every morning and looking at my goals each day and before, saying this is what I want to attack today, helped me a ton in my career,” Williams said. “Once I got into high school, my number one goal was to get drafted in the first round. Each day, I look to do stuff people aren’t willing to do.”

The goal of becoming a first-round MLB draft pick came to fruition when the New York Mets selected Williams 14th overall in 2022. It marked a significant step in his professional journey and a personal milestone he worked tirelessly to achieve.

“It’s a pretty awesome moment,” Williams said. “It feels like yesterday that I heard my name called. It’s is special being picked in the first round of the draft, let alone just any round. I am very blessed by God to get put in this situation.”

Despite early challenges in his first full season in professional baseball, Williams turned things around in June. He batted .280/.438/.493 with five home runs and 21 RBIs over his final two months in Class A St. Lucie. Subtle adjustments to his stance and an advanced approach at the plate led to an uptick in power and a promotion to advanced Class A Brooklyn.

“I tried to stay within myself and made a couple of adjustments with my leg kick,” Williams said. “I was looking back to how I was swinging the bat in high school and tweaked a few things after the start of the season. But I think I made my adjustments around the middle of June, and ever since then, I’m seeing the ball really well.”

Williams continued to excel for the Brooklyn Cyclones, hitting .294 in his initial six games. His presence was evident as he consistently reached base in the leadoff spot during his first series against Jersey Shore. His role as a table setter in the lineup showcased his skills and created opportunities for his teammates to drive in runs.

“Being a leadoff hitter, as I have throughout high school, the big thing is getting on base and trying to score runs in the first inning,” Williams said. “I am the table setter at the top of the batting order. If I get on base, I can help the hitters behind me, like (Cyclones outfielder) Alex Ramirez, and get him an early chance at driving in a run.

“It’s been a blessing to get called up to Brooklyn halfway through the season, and I am only 19 years old. But for me, it is about going out there and playing the game the way I always played. Nothing changes. People getting better, but you try to stay within yourself and not do too much.”

The emphasis on reaching base by being patient and drawing walks highlight Williams’ well-rounded offensive approach. The 19-year-old led the Florida State League with a .422 on-base percentage at the time of his promotion. He can become a consistent offensive contributor and build a foundation for future growth.

Williams focuses on getting into deep counts at the plate and only committing to pitches in the strike zone.

“I feel like I have a really good eye at the plate, so if the pitch is not in my zone, I won’t swing and work deep in the count,” he said. “As a leadoff hitter, there are also times when I would like to be aggressive, and by nature, I am a pretty aggressive hitter. There are certain pitches I look for in certain situations, and if it is in my zone, I will attack it.”

Williams’ speed and base running ability are also valuable assets to his game. He is adept at reading pitchers on the basepaths with a quick first step and gets a solid jump when attempting to steal.

Williams leads all Mets minor league prospects with 35 stolen bases in his first 85 games. He reaps the benefits of recent rule changes in baseball that encourage taking the extra base and swiping bags against the opposing pitcher.

“You can learn a lot by watching the game in the dugout,” Williams said. “I feel like a lot of people come into the dugout and sit and relax, but looking at the pitcher’s timing and seeing his tendencies, can help you as a baserunner, and it is something that I have learned a lot since the start of the season leading up to now.

“The new rules like the disengagement rule put a lot of pressure on the pitchers if I steal or get a big lead, and if they focus on me, I can put my teammates in a good position to hit with runners in scoring position.”

Standing at 5-foot-8, Williams might not have the typical physical attributes associated with power hitters, but he generates deceptive power to his pull side by utilizing a leg kick to create more lift and additional bat speed, especially with pitches on the inside half of the plate.

His work ethic and determination to become a multi-faceted offensive player also helps him overcome the lack of prototypical size.

“I try to be very simple with my approach at the plate,” Williams said. “Having a leg kick helps with timing and how long I can keep my barrel in the strike zone. It also helps me get into my power and be consistent in each at-bat.

“Playing with a chip on my shoulder has helped be become who I am today and with my size because I am not the typical 6-2 shortstop. But I feel like I will play the way on the field and everything will take care of itself.”

The 7AR Baseball Academy, co-founded by Robinson Chirinos and Aldrey Rincones, is a valuable resource for aspiring baseball players looking to enhance their skills on the diamond. Williams’ involvement with the academy during high school signifies its role in his development as a player in high school and pro ball.

The guidance and insights provided by Chirinos and Rincones were also invaluable to Williams in the way he approached the game on the field.

“They take a lot of pride in each and every player,” Williams said. “Me, my hitting coach, and Chirinos and very close, and I have known them since I was 11. They really care about each and every player they work with and the academy has helped me tremendously from the start and now leading up to my professional career. It is awesome to see where I am at today because of them.”

Versatility and growth are also evident in his play at shortstop and center field where he relies on his athleticism, speed, and agility to play both positions adeptly.

Williams plays most of his games at shortstop, where he possesses a strong throwing arm and quickness and range to his right but will need to cut down on his errors to have staying power at the position.

“I feel like as a shortstop, you can play anywhere on the diamond and going from shortstop to center field it is similar getting the reads since you have to get your read left and right on the infield,” Williams said.

“When I am in center, I try to take good angles, hit the cut-off man and catch the ball. At shortstop, I come in with the mindset of getting better each day with a set goal of what you want to attack with fielding and our infield instructor has helped out tremendously. It is about being smooth with everything and getting a good first read.”

Williams’ ongoing practice of setting goals and reflecting on past objectives highlights the proactive approach to his career. This process of goal-setting and self-reflection remains a crucial part of his path to success as he prepares to complete his second season in pro baseball.

“The main thing is staying healthy,” Williams said. “This is the longest season that I had. I want to be able to finish strong. My main goal coming into the season was to finish here in Brooklyn, and now that I am here, I want to go out there, have fun, keep playing hard, and see what happens.”

Gershon Rabinowitz
Gershon Rabinowitz
Gershon Rabinowitz is a reporter based in the New York market who has covered a variety of sporting events including the MLB draft, the 2016 World Baseball Classic, and Big Ten Hockey at Madison Square Garden. In 2013, he co-founded the website Baseball Essential and currently specializes in coverage of professional baseball and hockey.

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