Saturday, June 17, 2017

PhoulBallz Interview: BlueClaws 3B Luke Williams

Luke Williams, image- Jay Floyd
After a troubling start to his 2017 season, third baseman Luke Williams has turned on the offense for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws of late.  In 13 June games, the 20-year-old righty batter has posted a .333 batting average with four doubles, a home run and six RBI.

Through the end of May, Williams sported just a .173 average.  With the first half division title on the line, there's been no better time for the Phillies' 3rd round draft pick from 2015 to turn things around.

Following Lakewood's third straight victory on Thursday, I talked with Luke about his offensive improvements, the team's chances at clinching an early playoff berth and plenty more.  Read ahead for that full interview.

-It was a difficult start to the season for you, but things have been going in the opposite direction in recent weeks.  What has helped you make the improvements?

You know, I'd say my confidence is a lot higher than it was at the beginning.  Slow start.  Nothing I can do about it now.  It's baseball.  So, now I'm just taking it day by day.  Me and (hitting coach Nelson Prada) have been hitting the cage and making some minor adjustments and I'm just rolling with it right now.  I'm just trying to keep it going.

-Is there anything you can speak on as far as those adjustments that you mentioned?

Yeah, you know, mainly it was just being on time.  Being on time for every pitch and if I'm not on time, being early rather than later.  So, I think that was the main thing.  Just a little adjustment with my hands, moving them a little closer, just so I can get shorter and quicker to the ball.  Those were just adjustments that I made.

-At times I might ask guys how they feel taking the step up to a higher level and now that you've turned the corner I would imagine you feel better about it.  Do you feel that it was tough to get a handle on this league or this level?

Um, yeah, obviously, the higher you go the better pitching there is, so you've got to make a little adjustments.  It's not too big, but I think it's more just me sticking to my plan, making sure I have the same approach and stuff like that and you just gotta be consistent.  That's the main thing in this game, just be consistent. 

-I saw you before the game and right now you have the same expressions...pleased, satisfaction, smiles.  If I were to look at you earlier in the season, maybe I wouldn't notice those expressions.  You talked about confidence being a factor and with that can come positivity with the results on the field.  Do you feel that translating that way?

Yeah, absolutely.  And when I think about it now, I've always tried to play this game with a lot of fun and a lot of excitement and maybe I wasn't doing that at the beginning of the season.  You know, I was kind of too worried about, maybe, my struggles.  But, I had a lot of teammates-- my teammates are awesome-- they supported me throughout the whole time.  My manager, my coaches- they all had my back and I think one thing that helped me was Cord (Sandberg)'s saying, It's All Part of It.  You know, it really does help.  That's how you've got to take life.  I mean, just take it day by day.  It's all part of it.

-I wrote about it.  Do you wear the shirts and everything?

Yeah!  I've got two shirts.  Cord was actually my roommate when he was here (before a promotion to Clearwater), so I've got two shirts and Cord wore it all the time.  He wore it everyday to bed, so it's a lifestyle.  

-Closing out the first half here this weekend, the BlueClaws are in the midst of a division title and I playoff berth before the All-Star Break.  I know the team is really into this chase.  Did you guys come in and check out the league scoreboard after the game and see how everyone else was doing?

Yeah!  We've kept our eyes on them and I think Hagerstown was losing today, so yeah, we're paying attention.  We want to get that championship.  Definitely.

-It could be a nice weight off your shoulders too, to lock in a playoff berth and not have to worry about it and maybe relax in the second half.

Yeah, you know, we're not going to relax in the second half.  We're still going to play hard and play our game. But it would be nice to have it the first half, absolutely.
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