Coming in at No. 22 on The Baltimore Prospect Profiles Countdown is 22-year-old outfielder Zach Watson out of LSU. Watson was selected in the third round of the 2019 MLB Draft and was sent to Aberdeen and Delmarva for the remainder of the season.
Watson is a 6’0” center fielder, whose best asset is his speed and fielding, with promising power at the plate. MLB.com gives Watson the following scouting grades:
Since we don’t quite have a full professional season of stats to look at yet, let’s first check out how Watson performed at LSU.
Right off the bat, Watson’s consistency over a three-year career at LSU is what strikes me the most. He hit .318, .308 and .308 in his collegiate seasons, while hitting nine home runs his freshman year and seven home runs in both his sophomore and junior seasons.
Watson hit for the most power as a freshman, slugging .512 and hitting the ball out of the yard more than any other season. However, Watson improved his RBI numbers, doubles, and overall hits in his last two seasons. His potential to hit for power makes him an exciting prospect, while his consistency at the plate is why I think he will have a successful career in the major leagues.
Upon joining the Orioles, Watson played 20 games in Aberdeen and was called up to play 16 games in Delmarva.
The Louisiana native struggled to hit for average in his limited professional experience but managed to show off his speed. Despite hitting .232 in Aberdeen, Watson stole five bases in his 20-game stint.
In Delmarva, Watson’s season was cut short on Aug. 14, after a hand injury ended the year for the rookie. Overall through 36 minor league games, Watson hit .224/.295/.431, with five homeruns and 17 RBI.
I’m not too concerned with Watson’s low average because it takes more than 36 games for most prospects to get acclimated at the plate. The five home runs are a pleasant surprise that could really get fans excited.
At 6’0” and 160 pounds, I’m not sure Watson is built to be a power-hitting outfielder yet; however, with the flashes he’s shown so far, he could be an exciting hitter as he develops.
Watson’s best element of his game right now is his blazing speed and quality fielding. In his three years at LSU, he stole a combined 36 bases and was caught 10 times. His arm isn’t great yet, but his speed allows him to run down fly balls in center field effectively. In addition to gaining muscle to be more solid at the plate, I think that Watson’s arm would benefit from an offseason of boosting his strength.
The former third round pick is an exciting player that currently is a low ranked prospect with a very high ceiling. His fielding and explosive speed are two reasons I think Watson can make it up to the big leagues in a couple years. A full minor league season next year will give all of us a better picture of where Watson stands amongst the Orioles’ top prospects.