The Marlins officially announced their deal with 16th overall pick Kahlil Watson. MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis (Twitter links) originally reported on Friday that the two sides were in agreement on a deal, and Watson passed his routine physical yesterday.
Watson is expected to receive a bonus of $4,540,790, which is well above the $3,745,500 slot price attached to the 16th selection. Watson’s bonus would also put the Marlins in excess of their original $9,949,800 draft pool, but under the five percent threshold. Miami will have to pay a 75% overage tax on any money spent beyond 10 percent of their overall bonus pool, but exceeding the five percent mark would also cost the team a future first-round pick, which is obviously a price the Marlins (and any team) aren’t willing to pay for any prospect, even one with Watson’s pedigree.
Given that he received some consideration from the Pirates as the first overall pick, Watson’s surprising slide down the board was one of the chief storylines of draft night. Watson was seen as a consensus top-seven choice by draft evaluators, with Fangraphs and MLB Pipeline each ranking the high school shortstop as the fourth-best prospect in the entire draft class. It isn’t exactly clear why Watson was still around by the time of the 16th selection — the first 15 teams might have simply been higher on other prospects, or some clubs (like the Pirates or Orioles) were focused on spreading around their pool money, or Watson may have been to some extent hampered by the presence of two other highly-touted high school shortstops in Marcelo Mayer and Jordan Lawlar.
Regardless, the Marlins must undoubtedly believe they landed a steal midway through the first round. Watson may not remain a shortstop in the long term (another potential reason for his draft day fall), though Pipeline’s scouting report believes he has the athletic ability to handle multiple different positions. Watson makes a lot of contact despite what Pipeline describes as an “aggressive power-over-hit approach,” and Fangraphs calls the 18-year-old “electricity personified” due to both his bat speed and foot speed. Evaluators generally see Watson as a plus player across the board, though he is a little on the smaller side at 5’9″ and 178 pounds.