In what has become a somewhat “series” of conversations for me, I recently had the opportunity to chat with San Diego Padres and @GBSARays “baseball brother” Jaquez Williams.
Williams, the Padres 18th round draft pick in 2016, is currently playing first base for the San Diego Padres’ Arizona League (Class-Rookie) team. Slashing .242/ .364/ .484 with 5 homeruns, 16 runs scored and 18 RBI Williams has improved on his debut season’s numbers (.169/ .245/ .303 with 1 homerun, 11 runs scored and 12 RBI). He began the 2017 season with a 5-game hitting streak and produced a second 5-game hitting streak over his 26 games played. Looking at his stats it would appear that Williams is driving the ball more this season, hence the improvements.
What follows is our chat.
Coming from Georgia, how are you adjusting to life out west? “I’m adjusting pretty fast now. After coming to Az for 2 years, the only thing adjusting to is the heat because if you’re not taking care of your body with drinking lots of water and stretching then you will go through cramps and having muscle tightness.”
To what do you attribute your improvements this season over last year? “From last year to this season I can say my attitude has changed with becoming a better baseball player, my approach with seeing the baseball in my AB’s, and not being scared to make a mistake because everyone makes mistakes and if you don’t make one then you can’t learn from it.”
What do you feel are your strengths as a baseball player? “Helping others when they are going through struggles, staying positive when going through my own adversity, and if you’re talking about my athleticism as well, being strong as a bull.”
Is there an aspect of your game that you are working on improving? “Yes, there is, there is always something to improve on and for me it’s my fielding. I usually field at least 100 ground balls a day to feel comfortable before every game. My throwing consistently to bases is something I’m working a lot this year as well.”
How did playing for #GBSA prepare you for your career? “I started playing (for) GBSA when I was 15u. Seeing Isaiah Gilliam (NY Yankees), Bakari Gayle (Alvin CC), D.J Neal (Toronto), Akil Baddoo (Minnesota) and Te’kwaan Whyte (Chipola College) really opened my eyes because they were the guys that played hard and had fun playing this game. Thinking to myself, I was like this organization has a lot of guys who have the potential of becoming a big leaguer. So playing with GBSA really got me focused, determined, and more mature for this game at the next level.”
Who has had the biggest influence in your life to this point? “My mom and my brother. My mom stuck through everything with me. She was right there by my side when things were going good and when they were going bad.”
If you could have dinner with one player, past or present, who would it be and why? “It would be Denzel Gowdy of the San Diego Padres (Arizona League Padres). He has been my roommate for 2 years now, he is from Ga and I have grown a real brother relationship with him, and he is someone who is a hard working guy.”
Where do you envision yourself in 3-4 years? “In 3-4 years I envision myself either in the big leagues or in AAA grinding it out to get that opportunity.”
I would like to thank Jaquez for taking time out of what I imagine to be a busy schedule to chat with me. I would also like to acknowledge the assistance of Mr. Eddie Phelps of the GBSA Rays in helping to put me in contact with Jaquez.
It is my hope that readers enjoy these chats as much as I do in conducting them.