Williams’ speed could be tool for Cutters

Corbin Williams hasn’t raced Roman Quinn yet. He’d like to. The two have even talked about it while Quinn was in Clearwater rehabbing recently.

But as of yet, maybe the two fastest runners in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, haven’t seen who is faster.

“I’d say it’d be an interesting race,” Williams said Wednesday during Williamsport Crosscutters media day. “I still think I got him. I know I have him.”

Speed is Williams’ calling card. It’s an elite tool which scouts have rated as an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. It’s the basis of everything Williams does well on a baseball field. He’ll likely get to show off that speed in some capacity tonight when the Crosscutters open their season at Bowman Field against the State College Spikes.

Long and lean, Williams has the glide factor in his repertoire. The center fielder can feel it when he chases down a ball in the gap. He can feel it when he reaches second base and makes that turn for third.

Williams is the antithesis of the three-true-outcome game professional baseball has become in recent years. He’s not a power hitter and isn’t really projected to be so in the future. But none of that matters to Williams, who was drafted in the 24th round out of College of the Canyons last June.

“Right now, I don’t have the body for (power) and I’m not trying to swing for it,” Williams said. “My thing is on-base percentage, stolen bases and runs. One home run is one run. If I get on base, steal second, steal third and score, it’s still the same run.”

Williams is exactly the kind of player manager Pat Borders has used to wreak havoc on opponents in his four previous seasons in Williamsport. He likes his players who have speed to try to utilize it by taking extra bases and stealing when they can.

Williams understands his role as a professional baseball player. It was a role he understood coming out of college last year, but is still learning to utilize in a professional setting.

“Last year I came in knowing I was fast, but I didn’t know how much chaos I could cause on the basepaths,” Williams said. “This year, I’ve learned to be more aggressive, utilize my speed, and know what I can and can’t do. Sometimes they still have to tell me, Corbin, you’re this fast, you can go on this ball. I’m a little hesitant about it sometimes. But last year and this year I’ve been doing better.”

Quinn is really Williams’ only contemporary within the organization as far as speed goes. And there are some similarities between the two. When Quinn was a Crosscutter in 2012, he was a raw baseball player who was more of an athlete learning the intricacies of the game. Williams is much in the same mold.

He had a strong debut in the Gulf Coast League last year hitting .289 in a small sample size of nearly 100 plate appearances. But as is the case with the type of player he is, Williams slugged just .325. Of his 24 hits, 10 were infield singles, either on bunts or beating out ground balls.

Of his 24 hits, only two went for extra bases. But he was successful in 12 of 16 stolen base attempts.

“I’m going to get on base. You can hit a triple or a double, but I’m going to hit a single and end up on third,” Williams said. “I’m going to steal second and possibly third and we’ll still get runs. It just comes a different way.”

Williams’ skill set may not be as sexy as the raw power which has overtaken the game, but he wants to show there’s still value in the way he plays the game. His on-base skills are already apparent. He’s more than capable of covering Bowman Field’s cavernous center field.

All that’s left is for Williams to put it all together. He hopes to eventually grow into a little more power to be able to drive the ball. But that’s in the future. For now, Williams is content utilizing his gift as a runner and hopefully give defenses headaches.

“Last year was a huge confidence booster coming into Williamsport,” Williams said. “I know what I can do. You know what pitches you kind of struggled with and you know your strengths.”


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