Philadelphia Phillies Prospect Countdown: #14 Shane Watson
20 years old (August 13, 1993)
Weight: 200 lb.
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
After pitching in the Fall Instructional Leagues and feeling okay, Shane Watson experienced a setback with his shoulder pain in November. After it worsened, he finally had shoulder surgery to address inflammation in an enlarged capsule.
Shoulder surgery is not a death knell for all prospects but it is for many of them. What are the odds?
"C-3PO: Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field shoulder surgery is approximately 3,720 to 1.Han Solo: Never tell me the odds."
The odds don’t really matter. Either he will bounce back…or he won’t. That’s about the only way to look at it for Watson and for the Phillies.
The shoulder capsule apparently is not torn, which is a reprieve of sorts. He’s only expected to miss about three months but no one will know what kind of pitcher he will be until he’s back on the mound and finishes out the season feeling healthy. In addition to battling back from surgery, Watson is a diabetic and will have to be smart about his conditioning and fitness regime to reach the innings expected of a mid-rotation starter.
Watson’s dream is to eventually suit up in Phillies pinstripes with his good friend J.P. Crawford, who played short behind him at Lakewood High. Before surgery, he would have ranked somewhere between fifth and tenth of all Phillies prospects. Now, he’s almost off the list.
At 6’4″, 200 lbs, Watson is a big right-handed starter on the mound. A first round pick (40) in 2012, he features two plus pitches: a fastball, which can reach 96 but sits closer to 92; and a 12-6 curveball, his best pitch. He also throws a changeup, a work in progress.
A 19 year-old last season, Watson’s campaign was shortened by injury and he never really found his groove. In just 16 starts and 72 innings he held left-handers to a .183 average and had a 1.26 WHIP overall. While striking out 6.6 per 9, he also walked 2.7. The long ball hurt him, although this was probably in part because the Phillies asked him to focus on his fastball and changeup and set aside the curve for now. I’m sure the pain didn’t help.
Once he comes back, Watson needs to continue to work on his command while also making sure he isn’t tipping pitches. He’ll need to improve his strikeout/walk ratio by sharpening his change-up, which still needs a lot of work. But more than anything, he needs to pitch more than 72 innings.
Hey Shane, get well soon and good luck!