Mason Williams called up by Yankees

Former top prospect Mason Williams was called up by the Yankees for the first time Thursday. Williams, 23, is known to have an excellent glove, and his bat has been on the rebound this season.

He has hit .318 in 54 games between Double-A and Triple-A this season. He hits for little power, but can steal a base, with 11 this season.

The Yankees plan to have the left-handed hitting Williams play center field against righties, according to GM Brian Cashman.

This offseason, some thought the Yankees might leave Williams off the 40-man roster, allowing another team to acquire him for basically nothing. If an MLB club did that, they would have to carry Williams on the big-league team the whole season.

While Williams only hit .223 at Double-A last year, the Yankees reasoned someone might have selected Williams in the Rule 5 draft, thinking they could carry him in the majors as basically a defender.

Despite the low batting averages, the Yankees believed there was evidence that Williams could hit better, which has been proven correct this season. Williams will be the fourth outfielder behind Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran and Chris Young. Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) is on the disabled list, and though it is thought he should be back this month, no one knows for certain when. The Yankees continue to display what they believe is outfield depth in the high levels of the minors.

The Yankees also are recalling reliever Chris Martin to replace the injured Andrew Miller. This will give Joe Girardi a third right-hander to go along with new closer Dellin Betances and long man Esmil Rogers.

The Yankees had already sent down Jose Pirela after Wednesday's loss in anticipation of the Williams move.