I’ve teased at it for weeks and now it is finally here, the Top 30 Angels Prospect Countdown. We here at Monkey With a Halo have combined forces with Scott Allen from LA Angels Insider to provide you with all you ever needed to know about the best the Angels farm system currently has to offer. This countdown starts today with this year’s sixth-round draft choice fireballer Austin Wood and it will continue for the next several weeks as we take an in-depth look at one prospect each weekday until we get to number one (you’ll never guess who it is… and by that I mean you will totally guess it). We’ll also be supplementing this coverage with some podcasts over at LAAI featuring Scotty and myself, so stay tuned for information on when those will be available for your listening pleasure. Enough with the introductions, let’s see if this Austin Wood kid was really worth all the hassle it took to sign him.
Position: Starting Pitcher Level: Rookie
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’4″ Weight: 225 lbs.
Age: 21 Born: July 11, 1990
2011 Season Stats (at USC): 5-7, 77.0 IP, 5.61 ERA, 90 H, 34 BB, 50 K
2011 Season Stats (Rookie): 0-0, 1.1 IP, 20.25 ERA, 90 H, 0 BB, 1 K
Fastball – A. Not much movement, but according to scouting reports it sits at 97+.
Breaking Ball – C. Slurve type curve, nothing to write home about yet.
Change up – B-. He has it, and uses it. Nothing in the way of commanding it, but it’s good.
Performance – N/A, just 1.1 innings of minor league play.
Projection – A. Cape Cod manager said he was capable of going top 5 or 10 in draft.
Comp – Floor: Erratic reliever that never lives up to promise. Ceiling: Josh Beckett.
Video – Wood pitching for USC
Estimated MLB Arrival Date: 2015.
Season Summary: Wood is a very interesting case. He is leaving college after his junior season at USC after spending his sophomore season in junior college and freshman year at Florida State. At none of those stops did Wood ever post numbers worth noticing. What he does have though is a high 90’s fastball and two potentially plus off-speed pitches to complement it, meaning his upside is completely based on projection. As odd as it sounds, a big reason to hope for big things from Wood is that he dominated in the Cape Cod League in 2010. That Cape Cod performance may be just a few good weeks compared to seasons of mediocrity, but he was virtually unhittable at Cape Cod, which demonstrates just how good he can be when he has things going right. The task now for the Angels’ player developmenet staff is getting him right and keeping him there.
Now, that might seem risky, but Garrett Richards came out of college with a very similar profile and he has gotten the coaching he needed and is now a top pitching prospect, which is obviously the hope here with Wood. However, since Wood didn’t sign until the last minute, we will have to wait until next season to get a first-hand look at what he is capable of. Technically, we did see Wood make two short relief appearances in Orem this year, but there is no real analysis that can be drawn from such a small sample.
Finally, give the Angel front office some credit for getting Wood signed. He was a signability gamble in the sixth round, but they got it done and were thus able to land a guy who could very well have gone in the first round next year.
What to Expect in 2012: Wood needs some coddling, so it is a good bet that he will return to Orem next season so that he can work on everything that the Angels coaching staff has been teaching him in a low-pressure environment. However, there is a chance that he could start at Low-A Cedar Rapids instead if Wood can quickly implement everything he is going to be taught in instructional league. The Angels know that his stuff is good, so they will want him to focus on improving his command and mastering the mental side of pitching rather than just being a guy who throws really, really hard. If he can adapt as quickly as Richards did, Wood has the talent to rocket up through that Angels system and in prospect rankings everywhere.