This is one in a series of stories breaking down members of the Pittsburgh Pirates 40-man roster.
The Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves in a situation where they have a ton of middle infielders. One of those middle infielders is Alika Williams.
Williams became a Pirate on June 2 during this past season after a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays received bullpen arm Robert Stephenson.
Doing some background on Williams, he was a first-round pick back in 2020 out of Arizona State.
During his time with the Sun Devils, Williams amassed a .300/.383/.403 slash line during his three seasons. In addition, he drove in 81 runs, scored 91 times, and hit 31 extra-base hits in 463 at-bats.
Williams rose through the Rays’ system rather quickly and even ended up in Triple-A for the final four games of his first professional season.
During that 2021 season, Williams slashed .267/.312/.375 with an OPS of .686. In addition, Williams drove in 46 runs, hit five homers, 16 doubles, and one triple in 307 at-bats.
In 2022, Williams opened the season in High-A with Tampa and lasted the majority of the season there (84 games). With the Rays having a similar situation to the Pirates in having a multitude of middle infielders,
Williams was stuck.
At the beginning of the ’23 season, Williams opened with Tampa’s Double-A squad until the Pirates acquired him and placed him in Triple-A Indianapolis.
The righty played in 36 games with the Indians and put up a .305/.384/.531 slash line with an OPS of .915.
On July 25, the Pirates selected the contract of Williams, giving him his first ever major league opportunity on the same day against the San Diego Padres.
Williams entered the game in the seventh inning and drew a walk in his lone opportunity. It would take Williams four games to pick up his first hit and his first RBI.
Williams played a total of 46 games in the majors (101 at-bats). During his time in the majors, the California native slashed .198/.270/.248 with an OPS of .518.
In addition, the righty drove in six runs and had five doubles.
Looking at the big picture, Williams most likely isn’t the answer for the Pirates at shortstop or even second base. What we do know is he provides very good defense and could pass as an occasional starter.
Williams isn’t shy about loving the defensive side of things, either.
“I just love playing defense,” said Williams. “I love picking it at short and second base. I’ve never played third base, but I would love to. Wherever I am on the field, I just love being out there and playing defense and saving runs. That’s how it’s been since high school.”
The former Sun Devil was even mentioned in some rare territory with the Pirates. Within his first four games, Williams turned four double plays.
Other than Williams, only three other Pirates turned at least four double plays in their first four games over the past 50 years. One of those former Pirates was Jack Wilson, a defensive wizard in his own right.