Phillies compare pitcher picked first to Brett Myers

His best pitch? "Strike one," says Shane Watson, whose ERA as a high school senior was 1.19.
His best pitch? "Strike one," says Shane Watson, whose ERA as a high school senior was 1.19. (LARRY GOREN / Four Seam Images)
Posted: June 07, 2012

Whether Shane Watson lives up to his draft billing, one thing is for sure - he won't be a boring interview.

Watson, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound pitcher from Lakewood High School in Southern California, was the Phillies' first selection in Monday's first-year player draft.

He was chosen 40th overall, a supplemental pick.

Phillies assistant general manager Marti Wolever compared Watson to Brett Myers, saying they had similar curveballs at the same age.

Myers was the Phillies' first-round pick and the 12th overall selection of the 1999 draft. The former Phillie and current Houston Astro has also been known as a free spirit, somebody never afraid to speak his mind.

Wolever clarified the comparison of the two.

"Shane is [like Myers] when he crosses the line from a competitive standpoint, and there are a lot of similarities with their curveballs at a similar age," Wolever said. "That is mainly the way I make the comparison."

Watson showed a sense of humor in a conference call with a few reporters near midnight Monday.

Asked what his best pitch was, he answered, "Strike one."

And about his signature curveball?

"My curveball is my best pitch," Watson said. "It is kind of like my Visa Express card, I can use it whenever I want."

Under the new collective-bargaining agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool for the first 10 rounds. The Phillies pool is $4.9 million for the 12 picks in the first 10 rounds.

Teams that go above this budget could either pay a luxury tax, forfeit draft picks, or both, depending how much beyond the budget they spend.

Major League Baseball has a recommended value for each pick, and the amount for the No. 40 selection is $1.29 million.

Watson is a University of Southern California recruit, but he doesn't sound as if college will be part of his immediate plans.

"I would say if a kid my age got $1.2 million to play baseball, I think he'd pass college for sure," Watson said.

While Watson showed a good sense of humor, he also displayed a serious side when talking about his upbringing.

He said he got his toughness by having his brother Scotty "kick my butt." His brother stands 6-7 and weighs 235 pounds.

He said he also had to deal with conflict when his parents divorced when he was 12.

"All that in my life, my brother, my parents arguing and being divorced, all that - I kind of used baseball on the mound to let my anger go, not my anger go, but kind of like that to be my sanctuary, to forget about everything," said Watson, who was 4-3 with a 1.19 ERA as a senior.

Besides a fastball and curve, he throws a change-up and has recently picked up a cutter.

The Phillies' other first-day pick was 6-3, 205-pound righthander Mitch Gueller from William F. West High School in Chehalis, Wash. He was taken 54th, and the recommended slot payment is $940,200. He is a Washington State recruit.

Gueller was 6-0 with a 0.82 ERA.

Wolever is confident that both players will sign.

This season, drafted players must sign by July 13. In previous years, the signing deadline was mid-August.

It was the fifth-straight year that the Phillies drafted a high school player with their first pick. Wolever said Watson and Gueller have the makeup to handle the difficult climb in the minors.

"They don't act like high school, 18-year-old guys," he said. "There is a little bit of that occasionally, but these guys are competitive, composed athletes."

Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or Follow on Twitter @sjnard.

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