KRIS WATTS
CATCHER
Born: July 15, 1984
Height: 6′ 1″
Weight: 209
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Drafted: 16th Round, 470th Overall, 2006
How Acquired: Draft
College: Santa Clara University
Agent: N/A

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

Watts attended Ohlone College before he went to Santa Clara.  The Pirates in those days generally drafted a college catcher somewhere around the mid-teens, although more often than not they were good-field, no-hit types.  By contrast, Baseball America described Watts as “decent” defensively, but he started showing some pop with the bat as a senior.  As a pro he’s been a good hitter, with very good plate discipline and decent power.  He’s not strong defensively, as he’s not very mobile behind the plate and doesn’t throw very well.

2006
A-:  200/281/225, 120 AB, 3 2B, 12 BB, 26 K, 0-1 SB 

Didn’t hit at all in his first season at Williamsport.

2007
A:  261/326/433, 307 AB, 25 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 27 BB, 54 K, 0-1 SB 

Adjusted better at Hickory, where he was the principal catcher.  He threw out 34% of base stealers.

2008
A+:  285/378/420, 207 AB, 16 2B, 4 HR, 30 BB, 25 K, 0-4 SB
AA:  160/236/180, 50 AB, 1 2B, 5 BB, 7 K, 1-1 SB 

Watts opened the season backing up Steve Lerud at Lynchburg.  He played little until June; in fact, he saw more time as an injury fill-in at Altoona.  Once Lerud was promoted, though, Watts became the Hillcats’ starting catcher and caught fire, posting an OPS of 1.107 in July before slumping in August.  He had more walks than Ks.  His CS% dropped to 23%

2009
A+:  291/405/432, 340 AB, 21 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 55 BB, 51 K, 2-2 SB 

With Lerud at Altoona, Watts returned to Lynchburg.  He started until mid-season, when Pirates picked up Eric Fryer in a trade.  After that, Watts was primarily a DH and didn’t play every day.  It’d be hard to blame Watts for getting frustrated, as he finished third in the Carolina League in batting and first in OBP.  He had only a small platoon split and again had more walks than Ks.  His defense improved, as he cut down on passed balls and threw out 31% of base stealers.  He was eligible for the Rule 5 draft in the off-season, but wasn’t added to the 40-man roster and wasn’t selected.

2010
AA:  266/390/410, 173 AB, 13 2B, 4 HR, 31 BB, 22 K 

Watts finally got shot at Altoona, serving mainly served as the backup catcher behind Hector Gimenez, and playing almost exclusively against RHPs.  He continued to hit well for a catcher, showing excellent eye at the plate–with easily more walks than Ks–and decent power.  He hit 295/417/446 against RHPs.  His CS% declined to 21%.

2011
AA:  232/348/325, 194 AB, 9 2B, 3 HR, 30 BB, 37 K
AAA:  250/308/389, 36 AB, 3 2B, 1 3B, 5 K 

The Pirates sent Watts back to Altoona, but with Tony Sanchez and Fryer there he got only 16 ABs in April.  Fryer moved up to AAA in May, though, and Watts saw more action.  He made his debut in AAA when the Pirates were inundated with catcher injuries, getting into a dozen games before returning to Altoona.  He played off and on the last two months, as much at DH as catcher.  He had his weakest season since short season ball, batting 232/348/325.  Even in a poor season, his plate discipline was good.  He threw out only two of 26 base stealers between the two levels.

Watts has one more year before minor league free agency and will serve as upper level catching depth in 2012.  He’s a better hitter than he showed in 2011, although his defense isn’t strong.  The Pirates should have a host of catchers at the upper levels, including Sanchez, Fryer, Ramon Cabrera, Miguel Perez, Charlie Cutler and hopefully Jose Morales.  As they found out in 2011, though, you can never have enough catchers.  Watts will open the season backing up Fryer in AAA, along with Perez.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MiLB.com

NCAA
BA
OBP
SA
AB
2B
3B
HR
BB
K
SB
CS
2005
.306
.406
.446
186
6
1
6
26
35
2
1
2006
.332
.411
.545
211
18
0
9
29
25
4
2
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2012: Minor League Contract
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2006
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2012
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
June 6, 2006: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 16th round, 470th overall pick; signed on June 9.