Originally written on Monkey with a Halo  |  Last updated 2/4/13
The MWAH prospect countdown marches on with one of the most tantalizing yet frustrating players in the entire Angels system. Austin Wood Position: Starting Pitcher  Highest Level: Low-A Throws: Right  Height: 6'4" Weight: 225 lbs. Age: 22  Born: 7/11/90 2012 Season Stats Low-A: 127.1 IP, 5-12, 4.30 ERA, 125 H, 72 BB, 4 HR, 109 SO, 1.73 GO/AO, 3.73 FIP, .327 BABIP Fastball – A-.  On speed alone, Wood has an elite fastball (sits at 95-96), but the reason it’s merely an “A-“ is due to the fact that it has no movement and can be an easy pitch to drive if the batters can keep up with it.  Off-speed Pitches – A-.  Wood has a wipeout breaking pitch that isn’t potentially plus, it already is “plus”.  It grades out as probably the best in the system along with his fastball. I’ve also seen Wood use his change-up effectively and make opposing hitters look completely foolish with it.        Control – D.  If this were an “F” grade I’d probably think he would have no hope at becoming a major leaguer.  However, I’ve seen games where Wood stayed in the strike zone and simply dominate the opposing team.  I’ve also seen games where he walks more hitters than he strikes out.   Command – C.  Whenever Wood actually was in the zone, he didn’t miss his spots.     Mechanics – C.  Wood uses his big body as leverage on the mound.  He stands tall and delivers the ball at a downward angle, despite not having a straight over the top release. However, he struggled mightily to maintain his mechanics pitch after pitch and lost his release point far too often.  Still, there’s no sign in his delivery that he should experience any arm troubles in the future.    Performance – C.  It was a tale of two seasons for Wood.  In the first half he simply reared back and fired.  Sometimes it’d be a strike and sometimes he’d miss.  This was evidenced by his 62 K’s across 64 innings that accompanied 44 BB and a 5.14 ERA.  In the second half however, we saw Wood grow as a pitcher.  He stopped throwing the ball quite as hard and instead focused on putting the ball where he wanted it.  He struck out less hitters (47 in 62 innings) but he also cut his walks down to 28 and his ERA down to 3.48.  Wood got away with this transition as a pitcher because throwing 93-94 in the strike zone is more efficient than throwing 97-98 out of the zone.   Projection – B+.  If Wood gets his BB under control, perhaps down into the 3 per 9 inning range, develop command of his offspeed pitches and he continues to show a good feel for his changeup, he can turn into a solid #3 starter.  Most folks realize that’s a lot to ask for though, and many scouts project him into a reliever rather than a starter.  As a reliever, he’d basically become a Jordan Walden clone.    Estimated MLB Arrival Date – As a reliever, end of 2014, or 2015.  As a starter, 2017. (*As always, the above scouting report is provided by Scotty Allen of LA Angels Insider) Season Summary: Summarizing Wood and his performance this season is difficult because of how inconsistent he was.  There were flashes of brilliance and then stenches of, well, other stuff.  That combination is what makes him so interesting and so difficult to project.  Honestly, I don't think I can do it adequately, so I will defer to Kevin Goldstein who was captivated by Wood after seeing him and dedicated an entire 10-pack column to just Wood.  Here is an excerpt: Wood ranged from awful to amazing not only from inning-to-inning, but from batter-to-batter and pitch-to-pitch. We're talking about a guy who started his day by walking the first two batters, about a guy who started his day with six straight fastballs out of the zone. 94-96 mph fastballs mind you, but out of the zone nonetheless and up or out at that. Those were also the only two walks he gave up in the game, as he was an efficient strike throwing machine after that, although the command was never ideal. He actually threw harder as the game went on, including ending his day with 98 mph heat that moved for his final strikeout. He's walked more than five batters per nine innings this year, an ugly rate, but it's under three in his last six starts. I feel like I saw both of those guys in the same day. That's Wood in a nutshell.  A guy with the big fastball and off-speed stuff with good potential who should dominate, but mostly doesn't.  But alas, this season still provided plenty of hope.  While his line is good, but perhaps a bit underwhelming considering his talent level, keep in mind that this is his best statistical season, including college.  He is getting better and hopefully will continue to do so.  The first thing that he'll have to address though is the control because his walk rate is pretty horrific right now.  Even if his off-speed stuff never really develops, he can still have success in relief with his fastball, but only if he can develop at least below average command of that heater. What to Expect in 2013: It is going to be another year of refinement for Wood who should be ticketed for High-A Inland Empire.  While it is just one step up the ladder, that is going to be a big challenge for Wood as the competition will be better and the environment very unfriendly.  If he doesn't make the adjustments that are necessary, his extreme swings in performance are only going to get more pronounced.  At this point, he's not in danger of being converted to relief, where many think he is bound to end up, not when he still has such a high ceiling.  In fact, Wood might have the highest ceiling out of any pitcher in the system right now but he is also miles away from that ceiling right now.  With so few potential frontline arms in the system, expect the Halos to give Wood every possible chance to prove himself before even considering moving him into the pen. [follow]
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