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Fast-rising Jett Williams has his next big Mets goal in mind

BINGHAMTON — Jett Williams has learned it is helpful to jot down his goals before conquering them.

The ritual began before his first year of Rockwall-Heath High School in Texas, when his father suggested he create a goal board.

Williams listed 10 goals for his freshman season and hung the board on his wall so he could go to sleep and wake up with his dreams in view.

By the year’s end, each was checked off.

“It’s usually not going to happen like that,” his father told him, perhaps incorrectly.

As his high school career wound down, Williams logged that he wanted to become a first-round draft pick — which was accomplished, too, when the Mets selected him No. 14 overall last year.

Before his first full professional season, he wrote on the board that he wanted to finish the season at Double-A Binghamton — with whom Williams suited up Monday night for Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series.

Jett Williams of the Brooklyn Cyclones at bat in a game against the Greenville Drive.

The Mets named Williams their Player of the Year after the teenager made short work of Low-A St. Lucie, High-A Brooklyn and has touched Binghamton, having debuted Sept. 12, before he can legally touch an alcoholic drink.

He is the first Mets position player drafted out of high school to reach Double-A the next season since Gregg Jefferies in 1986.

“His production was probably about as good as he could have envisioned and as we could have envisioned,” general manager Billy Eppler said over the phone.

The organization’s No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, is their fastest riser.

He is 19, one year removed from high school and two calls away from the major leagues.

Williams already knows the first goal for his board when he constructs it this offseason: reach the major leagues in 2024.

Jett Williams hopes to reach the major leagues in the new year as the big goal of his successful young career.
Diamond Images/Getty Images

“I feel like it’ll be my No. 1 goal next year,” Williams said this week from Binghamton’s Mirabito Stadium. “Be a September call-up, if not earlier. I’m not really focusing on that too much. Obviously, you wake up every day, seeing that as a goal — I feel like every time I see that, it’s the reason I come to the field, work hard every day. Trying to check that goal off.”

The work so far has been paying off.

The teenager’s first taste of full-season, regular-season ball ended with an .876 OPS with 13 home runs, 45 steals and nearly as many walks (104) as strikeouts (118).

Only one player in all of minor league baseball (Detroit’s Justyn-Henry Malloy) drew more walks this year, and Malloy is four years older than Williams.

The 5-foot-6, top-of-the-lineup sparkplug has played bigger than his height and older than his age, with a disciplined approach and a good knowledge of the strike zone.

“I feel like I’ve had a really good season. Been through a lot of ups and downs,” said Williams, who struggled initially with St. Lucie as he tinkered with his leg kick, then took off beginning in June. “I never really freaked out, I would say, when not hitting at Low-A. … I didn’t really let that affect me.

“But this year’s gone pretty well. Just how I am, I feel like I could have done a lot better if I didn’t have the slow start. But sometimes I think you’ve got to fail in order to succeed.”

Williams is a natural shortstop with enough athleticism to move around, which will be important for an organization that has Francisco Lindor signed through 2031.

Jett Williams #4 of the New York Mets in the field during a minor league game spring training game
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The Mets have begun testing Williams’ defensive versatility earlier than they had with Ronny Mauricio, who is trying to prove he can move around the infield and outfield in the majors.

At Double-A, Williams has bounced between shortstop and center field, where his speed plays.

Williams said he can also play second, having spent some time at the spot in high school.

In underlining his athleticism, his Brooklyn manager, Chris Newell, joked Williams could play catcher if asked.

“He’s a quick-twitch athlete who can play in the middle [of the field] and stay in the middle,” Eppler said of Williams, who idolized Mookie Betts growing up and hopes to become as defensively flexible.

Williams acknowledged that he and his teammates, who are competing for a minor league championship, represent the “next wave” of hopes for the Mets.

With Williams, infielder Luisangel Acuña, outfielder Drew Gilbert and catcher Kevin Parada, Binghamton contains four of the organization’s top five prospects.

They hope to move fast. Williams has been moving just as quickly as he envisioned.

“Can’t knock finishing in Double-A as a 19-year-old,” Williams said. “Just continue to get better each and every day. Go into the offseason with this little taste of Double-A so I know what to work on and go from there.”