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2006 Topps 52 #186 Brandon Watson

Brandon Eric Watson

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[edit] Biographical Information

Brandon Watson holds the International League record for longest hitting streak ever.

Watson was chosen in the 9th round of the 1999 amateur draft by the Montréal Expos, 7 rounds before another future major leaguer named Watson, also selected as an infielder - Matt Watson. Brandon was signed by scout Mark Baca and debuted with the GCL Expos and hit .303/~.362/.319 in 33 games. Though an infielder in high school, he was moved to the outfield immediately. Had he qualified ,he would have tied for 10th in the Gulf Coast League in batting average.

In 2000, the left-handed hitter moved up to the Vermont Expos and batted .291/.354/.331, stealing 26 bases in 35 tries and scoring 53 runs in 69 games. The next year, he led Expos farmhands with 160 hits while playing for the Clinton Lumber Kings. The speedy outfielder hit .327/.364/.409 with 74 runs, 9 triples and 33 steals (in 53 tries), outperforming outfield mate Grady Sizemore by 57 points of OPS. He was one hit behind Midwest League leader Adrian Gonzalez and ranked 7th in the MWL in average. He did not make the league All-Star team.

Watson slipped in 2002, hitting .267/.314/.314 for the Brevard County Manatees and going 2 for 6 for the Harrisburg Senators. He did have 14 outfield assists, two behind Florida State League leader Ron Acuna and led in outfield double plays (6).

In 2003, the 21-year-old again led the system's minor leaguers in hits (180) while playing the full year at AA this time. He batted .319/.362/.375 for Harrisburg, scored 86 runs and stole 18, but was caught 17 times. He had the most at-bats in the Eastern League (565) and was again one hit shy of leading the circuit, trailing Alexis Rios. His 389 putouts led the league's outfielders. He ranked 6th in the EL in average, between Mike Fontenot and Luis A. Gonzalez.

Watson spent 2004 in AAA and hit for a good average (.293) but his unimpressive walk and home run totals left with a .332 OBP and .348 slugging percentage. He stole more successfully, with 22 swipes in 32 tries, and scored 74 runs to tie Ryan Church for the lead on the Edmonton Trappers.

Watson split most of 2005 between the Senators and New Orleans Zephyrs, regressing for a 34-game stretch to AA. He led Washington Nationals farmhands with 38 steals. For Harrisburg, he batted .247/.290/.253 in 34 games while he hit .355/.400/.419 for New Orleans, doing better at the higher level. In 88 games for the Zephyrs, he scorewd 69 and stole 31 in 44 tries. He was third in the Pacific Coast League in average, trailing teammate Rick Short and Joe Dillon and one point ahead of Conor Jackson. He joined Aaron Guiel and Todd Linden on the PCL All-Star outfield.

Watson was called up to the Nationals in August. In his major league debut, he led off and started in left field. Facing Ezequiel Astacio in his first MLB at-bat, he grounded out to 1B Mike Lamb. He hit a ground-rule double two innings later, though, and finished 2 for 4 with 2 runs and a run batted in. He hit .175/.250/.325 in 25 games for the 2005 Nationals. He only got sevem starts, in which he was 4 for 25.

The Californian outfielder was just 5 for 28 with a walk and one steal in 3 tries for the 2006 Nationals. He was sent down and hit .305/.326/.366 in 21 games for New Orleans, then was waived. The Cincinnati Reds claimed him, but he only appeared once for the 2006 Reds, stealing a base as a pinch-runner. He spent most of his time with the Louisville Bats, hitting .270/.324/.292 in a tepid 42 games. It was obviously a major drop-off from 2005.

Watson was signed by the Detroit Tigers in December but later released and picked up once more by the Nationals. Assigned to the Columbus Clippers, he began 2007 with a bang. He broke Jack Lelivelt's 95-year-old record for the longest hitting streak in the history of International League, by hitting in 43 straight games on June 17, 2007. A single in the third off of J.D. Durbin was the decisive hit. Through that game, he was hitting .338/.369/.386 on the season. Watson went 0 for 4 the next game against the Rochester Red Wings to end his streak. He was called up by the Nationals when Robert Fick went on the bereavement list.

Sources: 2000-2007 Baseball Almanacs, Rotoworld.com for partial transaction history, MILB.com

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