The 2013 Hickory Crawdads were undoubtedly one of the most star-studded low-minors teams of the past decade. The Rangers’ Low-A affiliate, they had Joey Gallo, who became the first teenager in half a century to hit 40 homers in a season…and did it in just 113 games. For much of the season, though, Gallo trailed teammate Ryan Rua in the minor league home run chase (Rua finished with 32, 29 of them coming in 104 games with Hickory). They had Jorge Alfaro, who many consider one of baseball’s top catching prospects. They had Nomar Mazara, who holds the record for the highest signing bonus by a Latin American amateur, at $4.95 million. They had 2012 first-rounder Lewis Brinson, second Dominican bonus baby Ronald Guzman, and for much of the year, had pitcher C.J. Edwards, the headline prospect in July’s Matt Garza trade.
While all of those players (and relievers Alex Claudio and Jose Leclerc) hold considerable intrigue on their own, there was no 2013 Crawdad who left a stronger positive impression on me than outfielder Nick Williams.