Brandon Watson has enjoyed great success of late. Watson broke the team and International League record with a 43-game hitting streak, spent a week playing center field for the Washington Nationals, and just suited up for the IL All-Star game. Watson, now back with Triple-A Columbus, is batting .311 and looks to provide a spark at the leadoff spot as the team makes their push for the playoffs.
Columbus Clippers center fielder Brandon Watson made history on June 17 at Ottawa. His single in the 6th inning of that ballgame extended his hitting streak to 43 games, breaking the previous International League record of 42 games set by Rochester’s Jack Lelivelt in 1912. Watson went 63-for-175 (.360) during the streak that lasted from May 1-June 17. The 43-game streak tied for the ninth-longest in the history of minor-league baseball according to the Society of Baseball Research. The streak that began on May 1 finally came to an end on June 18 at Ottawa when Watson went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.
The 43-game hitting streak broke the 95-year-old International League record set by Lelivelt. During his hitting streak, Watson was recognized as the International League’s Batter-of-the-Week for the period of June 11-17. He was just the 2nd member of the Clippers to win Batter-of-the-Week honors in 2007, joining fellow outfielder Darnell McDonald. During that week, he collected 12 hits.
“The hitting streak meant a lot,” said Watson. “It was a great accomplishment and something I never thought could happen. 43 games is a lot of games, but I had fun while it lasted and it was a great experience.”
Following his historic hitting streak, Watson received a call up to join the Nationals. Although it was a shorter stint than his last two appearances with the Washington, Watson put up solid numbers in five games. In 18 plate appearances, he managed five hits with two runs scored. His speed showed on the base paths, tallying six total bases. At the time of his departure back to down to Columbus, Watson was batting .278.
“I think I did alright while with Washington,” said Watson, giving CapitolDugout.com a personal assessment of his time in the big leagues. “It is tough because you never know just how long you are going to stay so I made sure I was loose. The last couple years during my stints, I have pressed to do too much. This time, I wanted to go out, have fun and enjoy the time up there. I tried to bring some excitement to the team and do some things that haven’t been getting done with the Nationals’ team.”
“When I got sent down, the organization told me it wasn’t because of anything I did on the field. It was a numbers issue and I had to come back here to Columbus. Now I will come back down here looking to play well and get back up to Washington soon.”
Before being called up to Washington, Watson was elected to the International League All-Star game, but there was doubt that he would play since he was in the major leagues. After being sent back down to Columbus last week, Watson was invited to take part in the All-Star game festivities in Albuquerque, New Mexico on July 11. Watson started in center field and went 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. For Watson, the chance to play in the All-Star game was great because it meant he was being recognized by his peers and fans.
“It was big time. My family was able to come down to Albuquerque with me. They shared in the experience of everything that we could do down there. The All-Star game is a great accomplishment. There are not a lot of players that are picked so I feel real good about it. It was a great experience to share some time with other great players from the league.”
With Watson now back in Columbus, he will be relied on to carry a heavy load of the offensive opportunities. The speedy leadoff hitter was outstanding at the plate before the All-Star break. In 68 games with Columbus this season, Watson is batting .311 (83-for-267) with 15 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Watson currently ranks ninth in the International League in batting. In order for Watson to have the same success as he did before the All-Star Break, he must continue to be patient at the plate and find ways to get on base.
“I need to keep having fun if I want to continue my success,” Watson explained. “I work hard in the off-season and go through certain steps to get better. The fun part comes during the season when you can get your swings in and I hope to keep my routine going. So far my routine has been successful, so as long as I keep performing well, I don’t feel I need to change anything.”
The Clippers as a team have struggled throughout the first half of the season, especially at the plate and on the base paths. Out of 14 teams in the International League, the Clippers rank 11th in runs scored and runs batted in and 8th in batting. The Clippers have enjoyed the luxury of getting their leadoff hitter on base. If Watson can continue his rhythm and get on base, it will create more opportunities for the offense to come alive. As the Clippers begin their push for the playoffs, Watson believes his personal success can provide a spark for the rest of his teammates.
Watson sees himself as a leader based on his performance and believes he can be the spark this team is looking for. “If I can get on base and steal some bags for the team, we can start to create some opportunities,” stated Watson. “The energy is going to be turned up a notch in the second half of the season. This is the time that teams have to start making their push to try to get to the playoffs. This is also the time that the players need to step up for an opportunity at the major league level or to work for a good end of the season.”