With the No. 16 pick in the 2021 Major League Baseball amateur draft, the Miami Marlins selected Kahlil Watson, a shortstop from Wake Forest High School, in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
Watson entered the week ranked No. 5 on CBS Sports’ pre-draft top 50. Here’s what we wrote at the time:
Watson has a beautiful modern swing, explosive actions, and a chance to develop into a well-rounded hitter who can remain at shortstop for the time being. There is a chance Watson outgrows short as he packs on muscle over the coming years; in that case, he could find a home in the outfield. Either way, he shouldn’t be docked for being the third prep shortstop on this list: he’s a tantalizing prospect with star upside.
Watson suffered the steepest slide of the night by dropping to No. 16. It stands to reason that he was hurt more by Marcelo Mayer and Jordan Lawlar slipping than anyone else, given that each of the three play the same position and that Mayer and Lawlar were considered superior. Mayer went fourth to the Red Sox and Lawlar was picked sixth by the Diamondbacks. Still, that aspect explains only some of his fall, and it’s worth wondering if teams were scared off, or if the Marlins just landed one of the potential steals of the first round.
Watson would not be the first player from Wake Forest High School to reach the majors. Former San Francisco Giants outfielder Mac Williamson (who later attended Wake Forest University) appeared in 160 big-league games over a five-year career. Watson is, however, the first player from Wake Forest High School selected in the first round. Previously, the highest selected player from the program was Derek Foote, a catcher who the Atlanta Braves popped in the sixth round of the 1994 draft.