De Jon Watson, a football and baseball player at Santa Monica High 25 years ago, has been named Director of Player Development for the Dodgers.
Watson played baseball at West Los Angeles College, was a third round draft choice of the Kansas City Royals and went into baseball administration following a five-year playing career. He began with the Florida Marlins and most recently was with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians.
Watson was chosen after the Dodgers interviewed four candidates.
‘‘De Jon is strong on the fundamentals of baseball and his ability to evaluate talent has led to solid big league drafts,” said Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti.
Watson’s baseball coach at West Los Angeles College was Artie Harris, who is now a Dodger scout.
‘‘De Jon was barely 17 when he graduated from high school,” recalls Harris. ‘‘He was tall, lean and left-handed, so I gave him a first baseman’s glove even though he initially showed a preference to play in the outfield. We had a good group of players back then and he fit in well.
‘‘He went into pro ball, but I’m very proud that he got his college degree. He’s bright, speaks well and is very cordial. He didn’t get this job with the Dodgers because he’s a former player. He got it because he has worked hard, he’s enthusiastic and he has a respect for the game. I’m very pleased that he’s getting this opportunity.”
Watson is happy to be back in the area although he and his family have been residing in Arizona.
‘‘I’m really excited about coming home,” he said. ‘‘I grew up in Los Angeles.”
Harris joined the Dodgers when WLA College gave up baseball following the 1986 season. He previously became one of the most successful high school baseball coaches on the Westside, gaining prominence at Venice High.
Two of Harris’ former Venice players are current head coaches on the Westside – Kevin Brockway at Santa Monica and Matt Amido at Crossroads.