Austin Wood, RHP, Starter
Scouted and drafted out of high school, did not sign. Scouted and drafted out of Junior College, did not sign. Scouted and drafted out of the University of Southern California, SIGNED. Austin Wood has had talent and the stuff that scouts drools over since he was in high school. Now, he's one of the Angels elite prospects. A high 90's fastball mixed with an outstanding slider will mark Woods' success in the future.
Positive: Wood has a high 90's fastball that sits in the 95-97 range. Negative: It has nearly any movement to it and sometimes stays flat as a pencil. This pitch is reasonably easier to hit despite it coming at a high rate of speed, but it still is effective in almost every count.
Wood's had a slurve style slider that was brought out as "best slider in the Angels farm system" by a scout. It has a bold breaking action late in it's approach to the plate, fooling right-handed batters low and away, and left-handed batters low and tight enough to not make good contact.
Wood has a sinker and changeup as his alternative pitches. His sinker sits in the low to mid 90's, and is his "get out of trouble" pitch to force groundballs, but sometimes is used as a "swing and miss" pitch as well. His changeup needs more development which is natural for a young pitcher. It has shown quite a bit of promise though.
Wood has only had one problem with his mechanics and delivery and it's his release point. This has made his control drop drastically to what many call a "D" grade. It's more common for him to miss the strike zone than to hit it, but when he is on, he is very, very good.
Control and adding movement to his fastball will be the key to turning Wood from a standard minor leaguer to an elite, and future Major Leaguer.
2012 was Wood's first full season in the minor leagues, and he came out the way you'd expect most first year players to do. In Low-A, Wood finished the season with a 5-12 record, posting a 4.30 earned run average, and with his high walk count (5.1 per nine), had a 1.543 WHIP. Wood had a stretch of games between mid June to mid July though where he was excellent. In five starts, he averaged a six inning performance, allowing an average of sub one run ball, with four hits in each game, keeping his walk total low, and strikeout total high. This streak ended with a 5.1 inning performance of no run baseball, where he struck out nine, walking one, and allowing four hits.
Wood's 2013 season was lost to injury, but he did manage to start in seven games, five in High-A, and two rehab stints with the AZL Angels. His earned run average jumped with a weak performance in a hitter friendly park, but he did manage a six innings, walk-less, run-less performance while striking out five very early in the season. By the end, his seven starts lead him to a 3.81 earned run average and 1.731 WHIP.
EXPECTED OF THE FUTURE:
Wood is coming off a season ending injury, and will most likely return to High-A where his 2013 season started. Wood had potential for a callup, and could make Double-A easily sometime in 2014, but it is highly unlikely that it will be out of Spring Training.
Wood has Major League talent, but will need to settle his control problems, or he can kiss those dreams goodbye. Austin Wood has potential to be an outstanding pitcher though, so don't let us make you think any less of him. He is something special. If Wood can't fix his control entirely, and develop a better changeup, he may be moved to a bullpen role. At the rate he's at, with success, Wood could make the Angels Major League club by late 2016 or early 2017.
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