Dodgers lure Watson from Tribe

Watson named director of player development

During the 2006 season, the Dodgers prospects made a lot of noise and played a vital role in getting Los Angeles to a Wild Card berth in the playoffs. De Jon Watson is stepping in to make sure things stay that way.

The Dodgers filled their vacant director of player development position on Tuesday with Watson, who is coming over from the Cleveland organization.

With the impressive showings of Dodgers rookies this season, including outfielder Andre Ether, catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Matt Kemp, Watson knows he isn't coming in to overhaul or rebuild.

"I'm not coming in to reinvent the wheel here, that's for sure," said Watson, who is hitting the ground running, trying to get caught up on his new organization just one day after being hired.

"I think the key is to keep the ball rolling."

The 40-year-old Watson was with the Indians for the previous three seasons as the director of professional scouting, working directly with Indians general manager Mark Shapiro on trades and free-agent acquisitions.

In his previous stop before Cleveland, Watson was the scouting director for the Reds organization from 1998-2000, during which more than 25 of his draft choices reached a 40-man roster in the Major Leagues. Those draft choices include current Reds slugger Adam Dunn and Nationals outfielder Austin Kearns.

The Ahwatukee, Ariz., resident said that having a background in scouting can only help him on the player development side of the organization. Scouts do the work in finding the talent, but what happens to the players after that is out of their hands. In player development, Watson gets the opportunity to aid the players in getting to the big leagues.

"This is really an opportunity to get to know these guys, their make up and their character," Watson said. "It's a chance to get to follow the growth of the player as they mature in the profession of baseball."

Watson has never worked for the Dodgers, but as a graduate of Santa Monica High School, it's an organization he's quite familiar with.

"I am really excited about coming home," Watson said in a press release on Tuesday. "Growing up in Los Angeles and knowing the history of one of the most storied franchises in all of sports, I'm truly looking forward to the chance to contribute and help the progression of the Dodger organization."

Watson's new position reunites him with Dodgers scout Artie Harris, who coached Watson while he was an outfielder/first baseman at West Los Angeles Community College. After his time there, Watson played five years in the Royals organization, then he took his first scouting job for the Marlins in 1991.

He started as a Los Angeles-area scout for the Marlins, and he was part of their front office when the club won its first World Series in 1997.

"As a California native, former player and professional scout, De Jon's breadth of experience will add to the organization's strength in developing talented players," said Dodgers general manger Ned Colletti in a press release on Tuesday. "He is strong on the fundamentals of the game, and his ability to evaluate talent has led to a record of solid big-league drafts, and he will be a valuable addition to our team."

Watson is replacing Terry Collins, who left the Dodgers to accept a three-year offer as the manager of the Orix Buffaloes of the Japanese Pacific League.

Amanda Branam is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.