Phils nab high school righty Watson at No. 40
Aggressive hurler compared to former first-round pick Myers
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies see something familiar in Shane Watson.
They see the competitiveness on the mound. They see the fiery demeanor. But most of all, they see the big breaking ball and fastball. Watson, who the Phillies selected with the 40th pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft on Monday, reminds them a lot of Brett Myers, who they picked in the first round of the 1999 Draft.
"He's just very aggressive," Phillies assistant general manager of amateur scouting Marti Wolever said. "He wears it on his sleeve. He doesn't back down. I think he'll fit in perfectly here."
Wolever said Watson, who is 6-foot, 195 pounds, has a plus fastball and a plus curveball. He also throws a changeup and just recently started throwing a cutter. Watson attended Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Calif., where he went 4-3 with a 1.19 ERA in 11 games. He struck out 79 batters and allowed 36 hits in 53 innings.
Watson has committed to USC, but bet on him signing with the Phillies. The 40th pick is slotted to receive $1.291 million.
That's a lot of money.
"I'd say if any kid my age got $1.2 million to go play baseball, I think he'd pass up college for sure," Watson, 18, said in a telephone interview. "I mean, you tell me. [Would] you take $1.2 million or go study?"
Expect Watson to open with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Phillies once he signs.
Watson said he gained his edge and demeanor on the mound during childhood. His parents divorced when he was 12 and his older brother Scott toughened him up like older brothers do.
"I got my butt beat by him," Watson said. "I used baseball on the mound to let my anger go. Well, not my anger, but I let that be my sanctuary to forget about everything."
He will be able to focus on baseball in Clearwater, Fla., where the Phillies are hoping for big things. Baseball America considered him the 30th best prospect in the Draft, so the Phillies -- who selected another high school righty in Mitch Gueller with the 54th pick -- said they felt fortunate Watson fell to them.
Watson was happy the Phillies took him. If he develops like Myers developed, they will have a confident, top-of-the-rotation starter in the future.
"I think my best pitch is strike one," Watson said. "Yeah, my curveball is my best pitch. My curveball is my Visa Express Card. I can use it whenever I want."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.