Detroit Tigers MLB Draft Player Profile: SS Kahlil Watson

Comerica Park in downtown Detroit.
Comerica Park in downtown Detroit. /

Kahlil Watson Background

Kahlil Watson of Wake Forest High School in North Carolina is one of many talented prep shortstops in this year’s draft class. He is committed to North Carolina State, but is unlikely to reach campus with such high draft stock. Despite the flooded field, Watson is still projected to go in the top ten.

Our latest mock draft has him going 6th overall to the Diamondbacks. It’s likely four high school shortstops will go in the top ten this year. With Marcelo Mayer, Jordan Lawlar, and Brady House all rated higher on’s Prospect Rankings, Watson is projected to be last of the four taken.

That’s not to say that he won’t make an impact. The last North Carolina Prep shortstop drafted in the first round was Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Corey Seager in 2012.

Kahlil Watson Scouting Report

Despite his 5’ 9” 180 lbs. frame, Kahlil Watson’s best tool is his power. As a left-handed batter, Watson makes hard contact on fastballs with a good launch angle. His contact is solid, but he sometimes struggles with breaking pitches, leading to groundouts and flyouts.

His glove is good, but some question his range at shortstop even with his athleticism. The easy fix would be sliding him down to third or second base. He has enough arm strength to make the throws from third, but occasionally he lets one sail. His plus speed could mean he stays at shortstop, but there’s speculation he’ll lose a step as he fills out.

Here is what MLB Pipeline has to say about Kahlil Watson:

"Watson plays bigger than his listed 5-foot-9 and 178 pounds at the plate. He has plenty of bat speed and takes a big left-handed cut, giving him at least solid raw pop. Though he has an aggressive power-over-hit approach that may need toning down against more advanced pitchers, he does make consistent contact and doesn’t chase pitches out of the strike zone too often."

Scouts have compared him to Jazz Chisholm or Francisco Lindor type with more power. Watson’s size seems comparable to Lindor, but a quick look shows Watson is bulkier.

With Lindor having three seasons of 30+ home runs under his belt Watson would be quite the threat if he lives up to the “power Lindor” comparisons. With solid defense, quick feet, and a knack for the long ball, Watson has the potential to be an All-Star for years to come.

Kahlil Watson Career Varsity High School Stats 

Will the Detroit Tigers Draft Kahlil Watson?

Watson could be an everyday player and a potential all-star one day, but it is unlikely the Tigers will draft him. With scouts grading Mayer, Lawlar, and House higher, the Tigers have better options if they want premier prep shortstop.

If Mayer and Lawlar are the first two picks Detroit can still get Vanderbilt ace Jack Leiter. On the flip side, Detroit also has the 32nd and 39th pick, but Watson is projected to be long gone by then.

Kahlil Watson is talented young ball player, but with the third overall pick the Tigers can do better. Mayer or Lawlar would-be best-case scenario for a team who needs offense more than anything right now. If those two are off the board Detroit will be able to add to their young pitching staff with Leiter.

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