August 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm by Ethan Purser under Atlanta Braves
Alex Wood has done nothing but impress since coming into the system after being the Braves’ second round pick in this year’s draft. The UGA product has produced a solid 1.85 ERA/2.53 FIP with a stellar 36/9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 39 innings pitched. My goal has been to see him in person during the past few weeks, but as we all know, things don’t usually work out as planned. So, thanks to MiLB.TV, I was able to view his start from Tuesday night and take some rough notes. Unfortunately, radar gun readings were not available on the broadcast, but recent history suggests that his fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s with a changeup in the low-80s and a breaking ball in the high-70s to low-80s. This is not intended to be a full scouting report; rather, these are just some rough observations I pulled from my notebook and cleaned up for mass consumption. Hopefully I can get something more detailed posted on him by the end of the season.
Mechanics: In a word, his mechanics are strange—no comparisons come to mind; fast-paced and extremely athletic delivery; love the amount of momentum he carries throughout; starts off quick into his balance point, after which his front hip leads his lower body toward the plate (good); while his butt and hips are doing their thing, Wood’s upper body seemingly dips and stays over the rubber (good for separation between the upper and lower halves); he fully stabs his pitching arm behind his body, showing it to a right-handed hitter; shows equal and opposite glove arm; plant leg is bent at foot strike (good), but after he releases the ball from a high three quarters arm slot, he hops backwards—does not allow for great extension out front; posture at release point looked decent; back leg remains firm and flexed into foot plant; firms his glove in front of his chest and allows his chest to come to his glove, which I absolutely love; repeats mechanics well and has the “deceptive” factor; not yet sure what to make of the total package of his mechanics.
Fastball: Featured above-average movement to the arm side; located pitch well to his arm side and struggled locating to his glove side; tends to flatten out when left up in the zone; as the game progressed, the pitch missed high and to the arm side more frequently (looked to be cutting himself off a bit, although this could be a function of the weird camera angles); showed decent downhill plane; would like to see how his velocity held throughout the outing; has the potential to be a solid-average to plus offering in the future.
Changeup: Featured above-average sink and fade to the arm side; thrown primarily to right-handed hitters as a swing-and-miss pitch; had very little trouble locating the pitch and did a great job of keeping it low and away to righties; sold the pitch well, as the tempo of his delivery/arm action did not slow down; low-A hitters looked overmatched against this offering; future plus pitch.
Breaking ball: The pitch currently sweeps more than it breaks—slurvy; threw it primarily as a show-me pitch; showed it only once or twice to righties, burying it in on their shoe tops; generated only a handful of whiffs vs. left-handed hitters; primarily kept the ball on the outer half vs. lefties, but would occasionally sneak one into the zone early in the count as a get-me-over pitch; the ball found the dirt quite often—location was inconsistent; one has to wonder if the unconventional hop after foot plant limits the efficacy of his breaking ball in terms of both consistency and movement; could be an average pitch down the line, but will require significant work.
Takeaways: Wood’s mechanics are undoubtedly different, but I’m not overly concerned with them. At this point in his development, changing his mechanics could do more harm than good. He commands and controls his fastball and changeup well, so the mechanics are not a huge hindrance in this regard. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the breaking ball (he refers to it as a slider). After the draft, many pundits voiced their concern with the pitch and its projection, leading to the preconceived doubt about the pitch on my end. After seeing it, however, I’m a little more optimistic about what the pitch could be in the future. As it stands, Alex could end up being a lot of things in terms of his future role in the majors. Regardless of his mechanical quirkiness, his arm is definitely a good one to have in the system.