Marlins sign first-round pick Kahlil Watson to round out draft class

·2 min read

The Miami Marlins have their top pick from the 2021 MLB Draft under contract, officially signing prep shortstop Kahlil Watson on Sunday.

And Watson is nothing short of confident about the impact he hopes to eventually make in the big leagues.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Watson, who was on the field at loanDepot park with his family pregame Sunday after singing his contact.

That applies to both Watson and the Marlins, who two weeks later are still shocked Watson dropped to them at the No. 16 overall pick.

Watson was projected as a top-seven prospect heading into the draft but slipped completely out of the top half of the first round.

“He’s just gonna be a huge lift for our farm system,” Marlins general manager Kim Ng said. “He’s got five tools. I think many in the industry didn’t believe that he’d fall that far to us.”

From ‘not gonna happen’ to the steal of the draft, Marlins excited about Kahlil Watson

Now, the Marlins had to pay to make sure they could get Watson signed. They gave him an overslot deal worth about $4.5 million, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The signing bonus slot value for the No. 16 overall pick was $3,745,500, but the Marlins made its share of underslot values among its picks from the first 10 rounds to make sure they could get a deal done with Watson.

“We knew the situation,” Marlins director of amateur scouting DJ Svihlik said. “We knew the family, and that’s what gave me the confidence to pull the magnet in a somewhat uncomfortable situation. So, I’m very happy and proud of the family. Agent did a nice job. Proud of the work that all my staff did to get this done. I was very confident that we’re gonna go do this.”

Watson averaged .477 across his high school career with 16 home runs in 66 games. As a senior, he hit .513 in 15 games with six home runs and 14 RBI. He also had 61 steals in 66 career games for the Wake Forest Cougars.

Svihlik has previously compared Watson to three-time All-Star and 2007 National League MVP Jimmy Rollins.

“You don’t want to create undue expectations on a young player, but this player can do everything,” Svihlik said. “It’s not a raw talent. This guy knows how to play the game. He flies. He hits it hard and far. He’s got a cannon for an arm and the size. That’s why people say Rollins.”

Which attribute of his game does Watson believe is his biggest strength?

“For me, it’s my speed and hitting,” Watson said, “but it’s all five tools to be honest.”

With Watson signed, the Marlins signed 20 of their 21 selections in this year’s draft. The only player who went unsigned: 16th-round pick Ivan Melendez from the University of Texas, who had previously announced he’s returning to school.

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