Watson Drafted By Rangers In 12th Round
Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2014
When Joe Watson was picked in the Major League Baseball Draft by the Texas Rangers on June 7, Charles Kurfees couldn’t contain his smile.
Kurfees is Mocksville American Legion baseball to the core. He’s been around the program for 33 years, including the last 12 as a head coach. He guided the Junior Legion from 2003-09, and he’s in his fifth year leading the Senior club.
Watson, a 2011 Davie graduate who starred in football and baseball for the War Eagles, was Mocksville American Legion baseball to the core. He never ventured away to play showcase ball. He played for Mocksville for five years. He was on the Junior Legion club from 2007-09, and he played Senior Legion in 2010-11.
Watson was a two-sport athlete at Catawba College. He is coming off his redshirt sophomore year in football and baseball.
The 6-3, 215-pounder from Advance was a 12th-round choice by the Rangers. He was the 366th player selected.
Kurfees considered Watson a coach’s dream over their five summers together.
“He was more committed than most players,” Kurfees said. “That’s one reason he’s going. I don’t think he ever missed a Legion game, other than his senior (graduation) week. And he was wanting to come home early and couldn’t get home. We thought we were going to have to go get him. He never missed another game from the time he played Junior Legion all the way through Senior Legion. He was always the first one there and the last one to leave. Now, you had to get on him sometimes to get him out there at batting practice before everybody. He had his moments like everybody else. But he was always the first one at the park on game days and practices.”
From North Davie Middle to Davie to Mocksville to Catawba College, there’s been occasional bolts of brilliance in regard to Watson’s right arm – just not consistent brilliance. There’s no question he was drafted because he has so much natural talent, because scouts see incredible potential.
Kurfees saw unfulfilled promise years ago.
“This guy’s got a tremendous talent, and I hope he makes it,” he said. “I knew he loved baseball when we would sit on the bus and he’d start quoting stats of pro and college players. I knew then: ‘Man, this dude loves baseball.’
“I kept telling everybody a long time ago. I knew he had talent all along. I’d give my right arm to have his tools. It’s something he always wanted, I’m proud of him and I hope everything works out for him.”
The draft added Watson’s name to Davie High lore. He’s the fourth draftee in the school’s 58-year history. John Parker was drafted in 1965, Denny Key in 1991 and Whit Merrifield in 2010. Merrifield was picked in the ninth round by the Kansas City Royals, and he’s currently in Triple-A.
Kurfees was proud to announce that two former Mocksville Legion players were drafted. Pitcher Mat Batts, who played on one of Kurfees’ Junior teams, was picked in the 17th round by the Minnesota Twins. Batts is a Mt. Tabor graduate who became the ace of UNC Wilmington’s staff.
Watson became the 11th draftee who came through the Mocksville Legion program. Here’s a look at the first 10:
• Brack Bailey – Played seven years in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. … Played two years of Triple-A in the Pacific Coast League. … Bailey played American Legion baseball in Mocksville in the 1950s and attended Advance High School.
• John Parker – Drafted in the fourth round in 1965 by the Philadelphia Phillies out of Davie High. … He led Davie to the ‘65 WNCHSAA championship. … Parker was named Topps Minor League Pitcher of the Year. … He played American Legion baseball in the mid-1960s.
• Wayne Church – Drafted in 1967 by the Cincinnati Reds out of Gardner Webb. … He played American Legion baseball in the mid-1960s and attended West Yadkin High.
• Buddy Jenkins – Drafted in the 10th round out of Starmount High in 1986. … He played four years at Wake Forest, then was drafted again in the 16th round by the Montreal Expos. … He played American Legion baseball from 1984-86.
• Jack Kimel – Drafted in 1992 by the Texas Rangers in 32nd round out of Western Carolina. … He played four years in the minors, advancing to the Triple-A level. … He played American Legion ball from 1986-88, leading the team to an Area III second-place finish in ‘87. … He attended West Forsyth High.
• Brock Walker – Drafted in the 30th round in 1989 out of Starmount High. … He helped lead the Mocksville Legion to the 1989 state runner-up finish. … He was named Area III Player of the Year in ‘89. … He attended Wake Forest, where he quarterbacked the football team and was a member of the baseball team.
• Denny Key – Drafted in the 17th round by the Cleveland Indians in 1991. … He attended Spartanburg Methodist and Wake Forest. … He played three years in the minors. … He helped lead Mocksville to state runner-up in ‘89. … He attended Davie High and is currently the baseball coach at Forbush High.
• Corbin Russell – He was a 48th-round pick by the San Francisco Giants out of Bishop McGuinness High in 1993. … He helped lead the 1993 Mocksville Legion to 28 wins.
• Erik Walker – He was drafted in the 20th round of the by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2006 out of UNC Charlotte. … He was a New York/Penn League All-Star with a bright baseball future before a tragic death. … He attended West Forsyth High and played for Mocksville from 2000-03.
• Cory Martin – He was drafted in 2009 out of Western Carolina in the 27th round by the Chicago Cubs. … He played on the inaugural Junior Legion team in ‘03. … He attended Forbush High.
A story on Watson’s reaction to being drafted will be in next week’s Enterprise. He flew to Arizona on June 11 to begin his professional career.