Lefthander Tyler Watson is 6-foot-5 and comes over the top with in his delivery, and scouts know what that can mean.
“It’s not uncommon for taller guys to have trouble repeating their delivery,” vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliffe said. “That’s not a problem for this guy.”
Watson, acquired from the Nationals for closer Brandon Kintzler at the July 31 trade deadline, has a remarkably quiet, simple, rock-back windup. Radcliffe described his pitching motion as, “just lacking any extra movement that could get him out of whack. He’s a metronome on the mound.”
But if the 20-year-old Gilbert, Ariz., high school product lacks excess motion, he also lacks excess velocity. Watson averages roughly 90-91 mph, which may explain why Washington was willing to part with a pitcher who was an all-star in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2016 and again in the low Class A South Atlantic League in 2017.
“It’s not a leverage-oriented approach to pitching,” Radcliff said. “He’ll be a command-and-control style pitcher, and that doesn’t get you on top prospect lists these days.
“He’s so young, I’d expect he’ll add some velocity as he gains weight. But he hasn’t needed 95 (mph) to get guys out.”
That’s because Watson’s easy delivery, not to mention his plus changeup and an improving curveball, has given him a feel for the strike zone that the Twins believe could some day carry him to their rotation.
A potential top-five-rounds pick out of high school in 2015 who fell to the Nationals in the 34th round because of a commitment to Loyola Marymount, Watson has averaged 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings in three pro seasons with nearly four times as many whiffs as walks.
Watson finished 2017 with a flourish, allowing just two runs over his final 13 innings at low Class A Cedar Rapids.
“He’s got starter traits, particularly his pitchability,” Radcliffe said. “Everything sinks, and he’s always around the zone.
“It plays really well at the lower levels. Whether he can keep keep developing those pitches against better hitters, that’s the separator. But we obviously believe he can get there.”