The Quad Cities pitcher and Urbandale native made his rooting section of about 20 people proud in an 8-2 win over the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Watson threw seven nice innings to continue the success he has regularly had in this ballpark.
Of course, most of that was as a Division III college pitcher for Wartburg. The 23-year-old right-hander beat BV in the Iowa Conference tournament last May, and threw a complete game to topple Luther as a junior.
The guy apparently owns this place.
“I was feeling good when I went out there tonight,” Watson said. “One of my main goals was just to get ahead of the hitters. Work ahead, work down in the strike zone, make them get themselves out. It worked for awhile. They were getting some hits, but that’s going to happen. Rather (bloops) than the hard line-drive hits, I guess.”
Watson (3-2) gave up eight hits, though at least half were sketchy. For instance, one was a routine grounder that hit the lip of the infield at third base and hopped over third baseman Stephen Piscotty’s head.
The only run he allowed was in the sixth, after Frazier Hall lined a leadoff double into the right-field corner. Watson doesn’t overpower you, with a fastball around 87 to 88 miles per hour, but he knows how to pitch and throw strikes with his fastball, changeup and slider.
“Whenever he is down in the zone, his ball moves a lot,” said Quad Cities Manager Luis Aguayo. “His fastball moves a lot, his slider moves a lot. So whenever he is there, he is a tough pitcher.”
Watson is living the dream as a rare former D-III guy. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 37th round last year and made his pro debut in the Rookie Gulf Coast League.
He sat in extended spring training for awhile this season before getting an assignment to high-Class A Palm Beach, a substantial three-level jump. He was sent to Davenport in mid-July and has thrown at least six innings in his last three starts.
“Being in Palm Beach before I came here kind of gave me a little eye-opening experience. I can still do this, I can compete with these guys at this level,” he said. “Coming out of high school, I wasn’t as recruited as I should have been, or as much as some of the coaches thought I should have been. But it still worked out. You can still come out of that D-III level and play professional baseball. It’s nice to be able to show some of those guys, especially my teammates back at Wartburg, that they can do it. I know a lot of those guys want the same thing. They want to be able to get to the professional level.”
Quad Cities tagged losing pitcher Cam Bedrosian for eight hits and seven runs (six earned) in 3 2/3 innings. A former first-round pick, Bedrosian dropped to 3-10 and saw his earned run average jump to 5.99.
The Kernels are 47-74 overall, 15-36 in the second half. The teams play again Thursday night at 6:35.
Here is the game boxscore: