"High school football was probably the best time of my life," admits Watkins. "I loved playing football. It's probably my favorite sport."
Watkins has every reason to love the sport of football. After all, he was selected to the Kansas All-State team as a quarterback and defensive back, and the Kansas Football Coaches Association named Watkins one of the 11 best players in the state as a quarterback his senior year at Goddard High School.
Watkins' defensive abilities did not go unnoticed, either, as he was also named to the Kansas 6A All-Defensive team. But the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Watkins always knew baseball was his future.
"I talked to a lot of colleges (about football), but I committed to Wichita State my junior year to play baseball, so football coaches kind of backed off after that," Watkins recalls.
Although Watkins decided not to pursue football at the next level, he believes the sport made him a better baseball player.
"You want to come in and win every single day," Watkins said. "I play pretty hard and tough and that is what football did."
Watkins committed to play for the Shockers his junior year of high school. But when the Cubs drafted him in the 21st round of the 2008 draft, he had quite a choice to make.
"It was a really hard choice, Watkins says. "I was going to Wichita State, my hometown. That is what I really wanted to do, but they (the Cubs) made an offer I couldn't refuse. As far as my life is concerned, it was the best choice for me."
The Cubs offered Watkins a $500,000 signing bonus and moved him from his natural position, shortstop, to second base – a move Watkins believes was due to the talent at the shortstop position throughout the organization.
"I came to rookie ball and there was Starlin Castro, Junior Lake, and then Hak-Ju Lee came," Watkins said. "With those three talented shortstops, it's hard to get playing time so I moved to second base."
The move would not be a difficult one, as Watkins had spent time on the right side of the infield before.
"I have played both positions," Watkins said. "I played both middle infield positions in summer ball so I'm used to it."
Watkins has not only made defensive adjustments, but he is trying to add some power to his approach at the plate as well.
"It's kind of a slowly-but-surely going process," Watkins said. "I can do it, but a lot of times when I'm hitting in certain counts and certain situations, I'm not taking a full swing. I'm kind of a contact, line drive oriented swing kind of guy."
Watkins does feel the power will show up over time, though. This season, he has batted .254 with no home runs and two triples in 17 games for Class A Peoria – primarily at second base but also in a handful of games at short.
"It is eventually going to come," Watkins says. "I'm still getting bigger."
Watkins may be trying to develop more power, but that does not mean he thinks a lack of power is a weakness in his game. In fact, he doesn't really believe he has any weaknesses.
"I try not to have too many weaknesses," Watkins says. "I try to do everything well. Nothing unbelievably great, but nothing that is a weakness. Hitting and defense, I feel confident in both."
Watkins Has Football Mentality
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