The Miami Marlins’ 2021 first-round pick could be a nice pickup for the Detroit Tigers
Miami Marlins’ shortstop prospect Kahlil Watson has been away from the team for disciplinary reasons since July 1 and rumor has it the Marlins could look to trade him at the deadline. Is this something the Detroit Tigers should look into?
Watson hasn’t played since being ejected for making a threatening gesture toward an umpire after he ruled that Watson went around on a check swing.
Watson was viewed by some as a top 5 pick in last year’s draft, and was even a candidate to go 1:1 as the Pittsburgh Pirates looked to go underslot, but fell all the way to the Marlins at 16. The reason at the time was signabilty concerns, but now with this incident, it raises the question: did he fall due to character concerns?
The kid is still just 19 years old, so this is something that should be easily correctable, and could even correct itself naturally as he ages. But making a gesture like that, especially in today’s climate, is not something people should just gloss over.
Watson is an immense talent and a heck of an athlete. Even though he’s just 5-foot-9 and weighs around 180 lbs, he plays like a guy who’s 6-3, 220. He’s got the potential to be a five-tool player.
It can’t be said enough: the Detroit Tigers desperately need a player with that kind of talent in their farm system, and they are unlikely to find somebody like that in this year’s draft. However, they need to do their homework on Watson. Could this just be a one-off? Could he do something like this again, or has he possibly done this stuff in the past?
With all that said, here are two reasons the Detroit Tigers should pursue a trade for Kahlil Watson, and one reason not to.
Reason #1: Sky-high potential
Watson has the ability to be a five-tool player some day. He has tons of raw power and plus speed, while also having enough range to be able to stick at shortstop long term.
Here’s what MLB Pipeline has to to say about Watson:
"“Listed at just 5-foot-9 and 178 pounds, Watson plays much bigger than that at the plate thanks to an abundance of bat speed and a take-no-prisoners left-handed stroke. He gets to most of his plus raw power and had a history of making consistent hard contact as an amateur despite his aggressive mentality. He likes to turn the bat loose but will have to temper his approach after striking out at a 40 percent clip during the first half of his first pro season.” “Watson is an explosive athlete who can use his well-above-average speed to wreak havoc on the bases. He has all the attributes needed to play a solid shortstop, including smooth actions, range to both sides, arm strength and keen instincts, and he just needs to develop consistency that should come with experience. With his offensive upside and his tools, he’s capable of playing almost anywhere on the diamond and profiling well there.”"
There’s a ton to like about Watson. There’s a reason he could have been a top-10, possibly even top-5 pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. As it stands, the Detroit Tigers have nobody even close to Watson’s talent and ability in their farm system.
The one knock that Watson has had so far are the aforementioned strikeouts. He’s struck out at a 39% clip in A-ball. His offensive numbers overall haven’t been good, slashing .221/.274/.372 with a .646 OPS. He’s got eight home runs and 12 steals.
He’s also committed 15 errors on the defensive side, 13 in 34 games at shortstop, and two in 14 games at second base. It hasn’t been the greatest of starts to his professional career, needless to say.
But the talent is still there. He’s got all the athletic tools any scout or GM could ask for. All things equal, the Marlins aren’t exactly great at developing hitters, much like the Tigers. Maybe a change of scenery could do him some good.