Since being drafted a year ago, Shane Watson has had a lot to deal with, both on and off the field. It was some time away from the ballpark, however, that may have turned around his season.
The Phillies' No. 11 prospect gave up four hits and struck out three over six innings Saturday night, helping Class A Lakewood blank West Virginia, 3-0, at FirstEnergy Park.
Watson (4-6) walked one and allowed only three runners to reach second base. He recorded eight ground-ball outs and faced five over the minimum in his longest outing since April 11.
"The past couple of bullpens I was trying to get on top of the ball and slow down," Watson said. "That's been one of my keys for every bullpen [session]. I was just trying to attack the hitters, go back to the high school way. I was kind of an [jerk] up there. It's kind of a mentality, where you're not going to beat me. Like a get after it attitude. More like, 'I know they're not going to beat me' -- confident with a little bit of angry in there."
After enduring a rough start to the season, one that had his ERA at 6.35 on June 4, the 19-year-old right-hander has bounced back in his last three starts. He's yielded just an unearned run on nine hits over 16 innings during that stretch. The South Atlantic League All-Star Game proved to be a boon to Watson, who used the break as an opportunity to recharge.
"I pretty much knew that I would struggle at some point in my career," he said. "I talked to my dad and talked to my brother and they were like, 'Hey you're going to struggle. All the best pitchers struggle. It's how you bounce back.' I went home at the All-Star break and kind of refreshed my mind and started anew. That's what helped me out."
Perhaps the most startling change for the 40th overall pick in the 2012 Draft was something that happened not long after the Phillies selected him -- Watson was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
"My first professional season, I found out I had diabetes," Watson said. "It was hard at first because I didn't know how to deal with it while pitching. I have to check my blood sugar every time I come in from an inning.
"At first, it was really hard to find out and I was going through eight hours of learning how to deal with it, what to eat and when to shoot myself [with insulin]. I was just happy that it wasn't something more serious like cancer, something life-threatetning. I can play baseball, it's not a problem. I was just thankful that it wasn't something more serious."
Steven Inch relieved Watson and scattered four hits over the final three innings for his ninth save.
Angelo Mora slugged a two-run homer in the sixth inning to stake Watson to a lead and Art Charles went yard in the seventh to provide some insurance.
Pirates No. 8 prospect Barrett Barnes went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games for the Power.