The 2021 MLB Draft will begin on July 11, 2021, in Atlanta, GA. We take a look at Kahlil Watson, one of the top shortstops in the draft.
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Khalil Watson, SS, Wake Forest-Rolesville (NC)
Weight: 178 lbs.
2017-18: 20 G – .389/.444/.555, 7 XBH, 22 RBI, 17 SB
2018-19: 26 G – .578/.631/1.044, 24 XBH, 23 RBI, 26 SB
2019-20: 5 G – .235/.316/.588, 2 XBH, 6 RBI, 3 SB
2020-21: 5 G – .583/.688/1.166, 5 XBH, 3 RBI, 5 SB
Watson is a young prospect. Born on April 16, 2003, he has only just turned 18. He is a NC State commit, but he could be on his way to the big leagues very soon. Watson plays the game with passion and has had very strong high school numbers, batting .476 with 11 home runs so far.
Watson’s biggest strength at the plate is his power. He is an athletic, strong hitter with terrific bat speed. The shortstop does a good job of getting his bat forward to get to the ball in a hurry and rarely chases balls out of the strike zone.
He has good awareness in the field and is able to throw quickly across the diamond. Watson does not make many errors on defense (aside from the occasional double play turn) and he fields the ball softly and throws to first with ease due to his strength. Watson is also a threat on the bases, and opposing teams will have to watch out once he is on.
Watson has all of the tools to succeed in the majors, but he has a couple of areas he can improve upon. He is a poor hitter against the breaking ball, but with his good bat speed and keen eye for taking walks, he can improve in that area. Watson has a tendency to pop the ball up in the infield or chopping them into the dirt often, but when his barrel connects well, the baseball flies.
As mentioned, Watson also is not very good at making throws to first on the turn for a double-play as he can dip his arm and be unreliable in those situations. There is a chance Watson ends up at second base due to his lack of height, but he has the physical tools to succeed at either position.
Pro Comparison: Francisco Lindor
Watson has been compared to a number of different players, but a good one is Lindor. Both are 5’11” and play great all-around defense. Both can wreak havoc on the basepaths. Lindor is less of a prototypical power hitter than Watson, but he can still send the ball (30+ homers in 2017, ’18, ’19), making him an adequate comparison for the high school standout who will only get stronger with age.
Draft Projection: Round 1, Pick 7, Kansas City Royals
Watson is a tremendous shortstop who will be looked at as much as Jordan Lawlar, Marcelo Mayer, and Brady House for teams shopping the position. It is hard to project where Watson will end up as his season has just begun, but he should be picked early on assuming he does not hit any snags along the way. NC State will be watching as carefully as baseball fans.
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Main Image Credit: via Prospects Live