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Royals sign first-round Draft choice Watson

Right-hander to join Burlington Royals, along with top pick Russell

KANSAS CITY -- The two best high school pitchers in the state of Indiana are now officially with the Kansas City Royals.

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The Royals announced the signing of right-hander Nolan Watson (33rd overall pick) on Thursday afternoon, one day after the signing of first-round right-hander Ashe Russell (21st pick) from the same Indiana township.

The Royals have signed 30 of their 41 Draft selections, including their top three picks. Watson signed for $1,825,200, according to Jim Callis of The club has not confirmed the amount of the signing.

"We're real excited to have another big power arm into our system," director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg said. "Strike throwers, competitor, winner, everything we're looking for."

Russell and Watson first became aware of each other when word spread that both were starting for their respective varsity teams as freshmen, a point that would lead to a friendly rivalry in Lawrence, Ind.

Video: Ashe Russell on new teammate Nolan Watson

Around the same time, area scout Mike Farrell met both players and would spend the next few years building relationships with them and their families -- though reasonably he never quite expected that to take him into the Royals press room back-to-back days.

"As far as an area scout standpoint, they told me to retire," Farrell joked. "I'm not prepared for that, but I can say it was a good day."

Watson describes his abilities similar to most scouts: Big, powerful arm with plenty of fastballs in the low-90s and variety with a slider, curveball and changeup. Scouts also like his smooth delivery and solid, 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame.

"I think even Nolan would say they competed with each other throughout the season," Farrell said. "Really similar guys, really good friends, and I hope and believe that they will bring that same energy, competitiveness, Indiana flavor to the Kansas City Royals."

Like Russell, Goldberg said Watson is slated to travel to Arizona for about two weeks of bullpen work before heading off to the Burlington Royals rookie affiliate in North Carolina -- common ground that both young men look forward to sharing.

"If we have a bad day at the field, we can always come talk to each other," Watson said. "We're there for each other, and I guess we're going to be throwing partners."

Watson will wear No. 33 to represent both the number he was drafted overall and that worn by former Royals ace James Shields, who signed with the Padres in the offseason and gave the Royals the compensation pick used to select Watson.

Jordan Wilson is an associate reporter for
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