Matt Watson’s team finished a game shy of a Cape Cod League championship Friday.

Watson entered the game for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox as a pinch hitter with two outs in the ninth inning and, even though his strikeout ended the game, a 6-0 win for the Cotuit Kettleers, he will take back to college lessons he learned in his first summer in the storied wooden bat league.

Watson, a former Deering High standout who will enter his sophomore year at Boston College this fall, was honored with the John Claffey New England Top Prospect Award. He hit .239 as a designated hitter and catcher in the regular season.

The league’s top New England prospect in 2006? Left-hander Charlie Furbush of South Portland, who’s pitching for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens in the Detroit Tigers’ organization.

“You’re facing everybody’s Friday night guy,” Watson said of the top college pitchers who are prevalent on Cape Cod League rosters. “These guys are good. They throw with conviction. You have to be sharp both physically and mentally.”

Watson was the catcher who helped Deering to back-to-back Class A championships in 2007 and 2008.

He was drafted in 2009 in the 26th round by the Houston Astros, but opted for college and hit .259 in 58 games as a freshman. He will be eligible to re-enter the draft following his junior year.

“This has been a great season,” said Watson. “I’ve really picked up how to deal with adversity and the pressure situations that come with a wooden bat. It’s a big transition.”

Watson hit just .205 in his first 19 games but improved as the summer progressed while picking up his power numbers. He finished with four home runs and 21 RBI.

“He handled himself very well,” said Manager Scott Pickler. “When it wasn’t going as good, he just worked on his hitting, worked extra in the (batting) cages. He’s a very mature kid, has a great work ethic.”

Watson’s best night came July 25 at Hyannis when he hit two homers and drove in six runs in a 9-6 victory.

Watson worked at improving his bat speed and was among the hardest workers on the team.

“He’s the first one in the batting cage. Then we have to get him out with a crowbar,” said General Manager Jim Martin.

Watson said the process was helpful.

“I worked with our hitting coach for about an hour every day, which helped my consistency,” he said. “At the beginning of the year I was hitting the ball hard, just right at people. I was a little unlucky, but working every day in the cages to get my swing down really helped.”

Scouts are frequent sightings in the Cape Cod League, with a dozen or more behind home plate on some nights. Pickler said Watson has a bright future if he improves his overall game.

“He’s got to work defensively whether he stays at catcher or moves to the outfield,” said Pickler. “He has to work at foot speed and he has to work defensively so he loses the (designated hitter) label.”

Watson said he plans to return to Maine for a few weeks before heading to BC in September, a few weeks before fall baseball begins.

“I’m excited to get back and get the fall started,” he said.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: [email protected]