The Hanwha Eagles’ new foreign bat Nick Williams made his KBO debut.
Williams, who signed with Hanwha on March 18 as a replacement for Brian O’Grady, started in left field as the fourth outfielder on the first team roster against the KT Wiz in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League on Sunday at Daejeon Hanwha Life Eagles Park.
Hanwha, which had been without a foreign hitter in its lineup for some time as O’Grady was released after his last trip to the second team against Lotte on March 18, had a foreign hitter in its starting lineup for the first time in 40 days with Williams. Hanwha, which is trying to win its fifth straight game for the first time in 1005 days since Sept. 25, 2020, went with a strong cleanup trio of No. 3 Noh Si-hwan-4 Williams-5 Chae Eun-sung.
Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho watched Williams take batting practice when he joined the team against Changwon on the 24th and said, “Her hitting and defense are good. It’s not bad compared to his previous videos. His power is weak, but his swing mechanics are like the old (Eric) Temples,” he said.
After training with him, Chae Eun-sung said, “His stats don’t seem to be skewed. He produces good hitting whether he pushes or pulls. Her swing is also good and I’m looking forward to it.” Noh Si-hwan also said, “Williams’ personality is very good and I think it will go well. I’m already looking forward to it.”
“I like Eagles Park,” Williams said before the game. I didn’t get to see any at-bats because home plate was covered with a tarp, but I walked around the outfield with my coach before practice and the grass is very flat and I like the dirt. I can’t wait to play in front of the crowd, and I’ll be diving and sliding even if it means getting my uniform dirty,” he said of his KBO debut.
Williams led off the bottom of the second inning and struck out against KT starter Ko Young-pyo on a five-pitch, 119-kilometer changeup. The second at-bat is the one to watch. Facing Ko Young-pyo again with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, Williams took the same 119-kilometer changeup for a sharp hit, setting the stage for his changeup adaptation.
The Hanwha fans cheered him on with loud applause as his bat stretched out. “I can’t wait to go to Daejeon Stadium and see the fans cheering for me,” said Williams, who watched the KBO via U.S. broadcasts when the minor leagues were suspended due to the coronavirus, and he made a diving catch in the top of the seventh inning that drew cheers from the fans. 안전놀이터
After O’Grady packed it in with a dismal .125 batting average in 22 games, Hanwha went from the minors to the Mexican League in search of a new foreign hitter. It wasn’t an easy process, but Williams’ debut was a positive one. “Even though he didn’t have a hit, he kept making good contact after striking out in his first at-bat, and it’s encouraging to see him adjusting to the changeup quickly,” Choi said after the game.