It was a rocky start for Shane Watson from the moment he was drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2012 draft. The big righty was diagnosed with diabetes soon after being drafted which limited his time in the GCL as he lost a lot of weight and strength. He bounced back in Instructs and had an interesting start to 2013 as he struggled at times while the Phillies forced the development of his changeup by limiting his curveball. He showed some signs of progress before being shut down with shoulder tendonitis. The Phillies tried resting him and using the time to rework his delivery (there were always some questions about whether the delivery would work long term). The shoulder never healed and he had surgery during the winter. The following spring he just never regained the strength in his shoulder and didn’t pitch at all during the 2014 season. In September 2014 he received a 50 game suspension for a drug of abuse. Then during the offseason (November) Watson had another shoulder surgery to clean up. The timing of the surgery rehab and suspension looked to coincide in 2015.
At his best Watson brought a fastball at 89-94 that could touch 96. He paired that with an overhand curveball that ranged from above average to plus. He was just starting to show feel for a changeup before the injury, but it was more flashing average than impact. Watson has some feel for control, but command wasn’t there yet, and the overall package was a mid-rotation starter profile with some room for more upside.
We have no clue what Watson is going to be at this point. Should injuries tend to be more career ending than elbow injuries, but there was enough talent here before to be well worth an extended look. The stated plan for the Phillies is to have Watson work in Florida on rehab until his suspension is up and his arm is feeling strong. From there he will move on to Lakewood where they will likely bring him back slowly in the 6 man rotation like they did with Yoel Mecias a year ago. Watson is only 21 years old so there is time for him to get back on track if some of the stuff has returned.