FARMINGTON — Former Aztec outfielder Dalton Watson will show off his defensive range in college fields all over Kansas next year.
Last week, the 2015 Aztec High School graduate signed his national letter of intent to play baseball at Seward Community College in Liberal, Kan.
Strike Zone coaches Adam Morrissey and Alex Scanlan, who have both spent a lot of time around Watson over the past five years, were instrumental in helping him get the offer.
"Adam (Morrissey) and Coach Scanlan, they talked back and forth with Coach (Mike) Davidson at Seward a lot the past few weeks," Watson said. "They said a lot of good things about me, and Coach Davidson finally gave me a call. Then he set something up to come see me play a few weeks ago."
Watson competed for Strike Zone Morrissey in the Connie Mack City Tournament this summer. When his team played in Denver and Pueblo, Colo., Davidson watched him play. Shortly after that, Watson said he was offered a scholarship.
"After we played in Denver, Coach Davidson gave me a call and said they were looking for one more guy," Watson said. "And that was it."
Watson said Scanlan was like an older brother to him when he played under Scanlan's father, Dirk, at Aztec during his first two years of high school.
"Alex has been around me since I was in eighth grade," Watson said. "He was always around because his dad was the coach. I learned a lot by just having him in my life. He played college ball, and he knew what he was talking about, and he helped me become the player I am now."
Scanlan said he shares the same brotherly sentiments with Watson and thinks he's an excellent player.
"He works hard, and he has a lot of pop on his bat," Scanlan said. "He's sound defensively. I've really watched him grow over the years. If he keeps working hard, I see no reason why he can't be a really good player at the next level."
Watson had a terrific season as a senior at Aztec. He led the Tigers in hits (35), runs scored (27), home runs (5), doubles (10) and triples (6), all while boasting a .479 batting average.
His best baseball attribute, though, may be his defense. The young center fielder finished his senior year with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. His head coach at Aztec, Brett Alexander, said he thought Watson was special in the field.
"Defensively, he could walk on to a Division I school and play the outfield," Alexander said. "He's got the arm and the glove and the speed to more than hold his own on defense."
Alexander was an assistant at Aztec during Watson's first two years on the team and then the head coach for his junior and senior seasons, and he believes Watson has a rare skill set.
"Dalton's got an enormous set of tools that are hard to coach. He's got some of the intangibles that you're just born with," he said. "He's got power, speed and, for a kid his size, he runs extremely well."
Alexander said Watson just has to work on consistency at the plate against upper-level pitching.
"Part of some of his struggles to hit really good pitchers is on him, but part of it is on the fact that we didn't play against too many upper-level pitchers," Alexander said. "He had some trouble against guys with high velocity, but so did a lot of our guys. He'll just have to get a little more consistent, but he's worked on some things already this summer."
The Seward Saints went 34-25 in 2015 while playing in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference. Watson said he's excited to get to Seward and start his college career.
"Not everybody gets to go on and keep playing after high school, so I'm going to take advantage of it," he said. "I can't wait to get up there and play."