After putting up some of the best numbers of any reliever in baseball this season, Tony Watson was named to the National League All-Star team. The accomplishment is special for any player, and rare for middle relievers. In Watson's case, it's extremely surprising when you consider that just a few years ago he looked like a prospect who would top out at the Double-A level.
Watson was named the Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2008, after putting up a 3.56 ERA in 151.2 innings as a starter with Lynchburg, in what was a very thin system at the time. He moved up to Altoona the following year, but an injury limited him to just five starts.
The progression to the bullpen began in 2010. The Pirates had a strong rotation in Altoona that season, which moved Watson to a long-relief role. In 111.1 innings that season, Watson struck out 105 hitters and had an ERA of 2.67. Even with those numbers, he wasn't seen as a prospect. He was rated the number 50 prospect in our 2011 Prospect Guide,...
Ryan joined Pirates Prospects as the Indianapolis Triple-A writer in 2014. Prior to joining Pirates Prospects, Ryan covered high school, college and professional sports in the Indianapolis area. For more updates throughout the season, follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanpalencer.