In 2003, Watson was Iowa's top high school pitching prospect at Dallas Center Grimes High School in Grimes. He also won the Bob Feller Award, which goes annually to the top scholastic pitcher in Iowa. He threw three no-hitters and set a state record with a 0.10 ERA.
But Tony tore his labrum before he got to the University of Nebraska. And, following surgery, he redshirted during his first year with the Cornhuskers. Shoulder injuries are often the kiss of death for pitchers, but Watson came back strong.
DRAFTED THREE TIMES
- In 2003, the Marlins chose Tony in the 23rd round of the draft, out of Dallas Center High School in Grimes, Iowa, near Des Moines. But Watson chose to honor his commitment to Nebraska.
In 2006, the Orioles offered Watson a six-figure bonus after they chose him in the 17th round, but Tony turned them down.
"I just didn't feel I was ready to play professional baseball either time I was drafted before," Watson said. "In high school, I felt I needed to go to college and keep maturing as a pitcher and a person. In 2006, I wanted to go back to college for another year."
Finally, in 2007, Tony signed with the Pirates for a bonus of $85,000, after they chose him in the 9th round, out of the University of Nebraska. He was signed by scout Mike Leuzinger.
- In 2008, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Watson as the 11th-best prospect in the Pirates organization. But in the spring of 2009, they dropped Tony all the way down to #31 in the Pittsburgh farm system.
- Tony was married during the 2012 offseason.
On May 26, 2014, Watson got his first career big league hit, a single off of Carlos Torres of the Mets.
During the 2014 season, Watson earned his first All Star Game selection. He retired the only batter he faced during the game.
The irony of Tony's being a setup man is that he often faces the most pivotal situations of a ballgame, only to have the closer get the publicity. Watson performed like a star in 2014, even if he hasn't been lauded as such.
Watson went on a remarkable run in the 2014 season's second half. His strike-throwing prowess added to his value as a late-inning reliever.
In 1966, Tom Offenburger quit his job with U.S. News and World Report after 10 years there in order join the civil-rights movement on the front lines. As the director of information for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, his new bosses were none other than Rev. Martin Luther King and Rev. Ralph Abernathy. Offenburger had decided that year, not long after interviewing both men at a news event, that he could be doing more to help people who needed it.
Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander Tony Watson, a great nephew of Offenburger's, marveled at his relative's place behind the scenes of history. Reporter Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette examined Offenburger's life and Watson's family's connection to MLK :
Mr. Offenburger isn't often counted among the central figures of the civil-rights movement, but he played a key supporting role, one his sister Beverly Watson—Mr. Watson's grandmother—and brother Chuck Offenburger still are eager to explain. Both still live in Iowa, not far from where they grew up.
"Tom's strategy was always to explain the civil-rights movement's message in terms that white people back home in Shenandoah, Iowa, would understand," said Chuck Offenburger, 68, a former longtime columnist for the Des Moines Register. "If they could understand what the civil-rights leaders were doing, they would support it, and they would stand with them. If they understood."
Mr. Watson never saw his great-uncle's name in U.S. history textbooks as a high schooler in Grimes, Iowa, but he has heard the stories, and marveled.
"It's pretty crazy when you really step back and grasp that he was right there," Mr. Watson said, "right on the ground floor." The Offenburger boys are brothers to Watson's paternal grandmother, Beverly Watson. The family has loved baseball (even before Tony got to playing it), though nobody was especially good at until Tony came along. Tom Offenburger was described as "a baseball zealot" who would have been especially proud of his great-nephew. Tony Watson was just a month old when his great uncle died at age 52 after undergoing surgery to replace two heart valves.
Offenburger also loved the Braves, to the point that Andrew Young, another civil rights leader with whom Offenburger had worked, gave him updates on the team's progress during hospital visits. The Braves reached the playoffs later that season, after Offenburger had died.
When he fell into a coma, Offenburger was visited often at Emory University Hospital by Mr. Young, then mayor of Atlanta, who would pat him on arm and say, “Tom, the Braves won tonight.”
“He was getting baseball reports 'til the end,” Chuck Offenburger said. ( David Brown - Baseball Writer - 2016)
May 25, 2016: Tony went on the paternity list.
In 2017, Watson pitched poorly and was removed from the Pirates' closer role.
- June 2007: The Pirates chose him in the 9th round, out of the University of Nebraska. He was signed by scout Mike Leuzinger.
- January 15, 2016: The Pirates and Watson avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year contract for $3.45 million.
|Birth City:||Sioux City, IA|
|Draft:||Pirates #9 - 2007 - Out of Univ. of Nebraska|
- Watson has an 89-95 mph FASTBALL that has good sinking and running action. He also has a slurvy-SLIDER and a very good CHANGEUP that drops right off the table.
- 2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 39.3% of the time; Sinker 27.2% of the time; Change 24.7%; and Slider 8.8% of the time.
Tony is athletic and repeats his delivery well. He has very good command, painting both corners of the strike zone. And he has to have that pinpoint control every time he takes the mound.
He needs good outfielders and a big ballpark because Watson is an extreme flyball pitcher.
Watson has very good makeup. He is a finesse lefthander.
He knows how to pitch. And he has good mound presence.
As of the start of the 2017 season, Watson's career record was: 26-13 with a 2.56 ERA, having allowed 34 home runs and 293 hits in 386 innings.
- Summer 2003: Watson underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. So he redshirted his first year at Nebraska.
- May 5, 2009: Tony was on the D.L. with left elbow tendinitis for the rest of the season.