TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — With their second pick of the 2020 Major League Baseball first-year player draft, the Tampa Bay Rays added some depth at shortstop. The Rays selected Alika Williams out of Arizona State University as the 37th overall pick.
Williams, who was ranked at the best defensive infielder among college players in this year’s draft by Baseball America, joined News Channel 8 Sports Anchor Karen Loftus on a Zoom call shortly after he was selected.
Karen Loftus: “After the draft, you said you were all smiles when you found out the Rays drafted you. What is it about the organization that you’re so excited about?”
Alika Williams: “Growing up in San Diego, Jaime Jones was drafted out of my high school sixth overall by the Rays. Me and Jaime have a really good relationship. I was able to play for the Tampa Bay Rays Scout Ball team all throughout high school so I’m very familiar with them. Our relationship has grown over the years. He’s always been checking on me and I’m really excited to be a Ray.”
Karen Loftus: “You got to workout with Daniel Robertson, got to pick his brain a little bit. What’s the biggest takeaway you had from your conversation with him?”
Alika Williams: “I’d say just how cool that guy is. He’s a big-leaguer and he was so humble and down-to-earth. I really enjoyed my conversation with him. I honestly didn’t know that was him until he was like, ‘Hey, I’m D-Rob.’ I was like ‘Oh my gosh, what’s up man?’ The fact that he was so humble and willing to just talk to me about different things like his swing and his approach was really cool.”
Karen Loftus: “You have a lot of defensive accolades. Do you like fielding or hitting better?”
Alika Williams: “I just like playing baseball. I hear a lot of people talk about my defense and how I’m a ‘glove-first guy,’ but I really enjoy hitting baseballs and squaring baseballs up so it’s something that I take pride in as well.”
Karen Loftus: “When you think about what you want your professional legacy to be, is it defense-oriented? Or what do you think you want to be known for as a professional baseball player?”
Alika Williams: “I take pride in my defense for sure but I think I just want to be known as an all-around really good player. That’s the goal is to be great in everything I do. I’m really excited to get to work.”
Karen Loftus: “Speaking of getting to work, what do you think these coming months are going to look like for you and the other Rays prospects– other minor leaguers?”
Alika Williams: “I think the organization just wanted to get through the draft. It’s a crazy time for them. They’re very busy signing guys and stuff. I think we’ll have a better idea of that in the next couple of days. I’m not too sure yet. It’s definitely a crazy time.”
Karen Loftus: “You are a West Coast guy. You are from California and you played ball in Arizona. Are you ready for that big shift to the other coast?”
Alika Williams: “I’m ready to get to work. I spent a little time on the East Coast these last couple of summers in the Cape so I’m definitely very excited.”
Karen Loftus: “Outside of baseball do you have any hobbies or anything that you like to do in your free time?”
Alika Williams: “Yeah, when I’m home I surf a lot. That’s kind of been my thing growing up. Get out to the beach and go surf for a couple of hours in the morning. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do that a couple of times being home for so long so that’s definitely one of the bigger parts of my life.”