August 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves, Minor Leagues
First off, if you haven’t read Ethan’s scouting notes on Braves 2012 second-rounder Alex Wood, do so. He goes much more in depth with the mechanics than I can, especially body-wise, while my focus is more on arm action and stuff.
While I don’t have video as proof, I can confirm Wood didn’t hop a single time in his outing in Savannah. If they addressed this over the past few weeks, this is great news for Wood’s mechanics. I felt the hop prevented Wood from finishing his motion, essentially cutting himself short. But when I saw him, he had a much smoother finish than during his time at Georgia. This should help his command.
Perhaps the one fault I saw in Wood was his arm action. He stabs the ball behind his body Ubaldo Jimenez style, and he also has the rock back before coming forward, like Ubaldo. The reason I’m not a fan of this, aside from the added stress it puts on the arm, is the added mileage the arm travels could cause lapses in command.
However, based on the video and reports I read when Wood was in college, I was bracing myself for a circus act on the mound. It just wasn’t there. Wood’s mechanics are certainly different, but they aren’t so out of the ordinary that anyone can say they will hinder his future as a professional pitcher.
Fastball: Wood commanded his fastball well. It has above average movement boring in on left-handers, and while he spotted it well arm side, he struggled to hit the glove side with consistency, as Ethan noted in his report. Also, his arm will lag from time to time, causing the pitch to be left up and flat. However, overall, I was very pleased with how he commanded such an exciting pitch. I wasn’t able to catch a radar reading, so I can’t say what the velocity was, but it’s been reported in the low-to-mid-90s.
Changeup: Wood’s changeup is a gorgeous pitch when it’s working. I saw two strikeouts to right-handers on the pitch, both framed perfectly on the outer half, both plus. He also threw several more plus changeups, and it was clearly the best offering of his three. If it isn’t a plus pitch already, it will be. I’m confident in that.
Breaking ball: I don’t know what Wood calls his breaking pitch, whether it’s a slider or curveball, and it doesn’t really matter to me. It was the pitch I paid the most attention to, because it was the one scouts said needed the most work. While there were times where he didn’t have a feel for it, especially early, I came away impressed with the pitch. It showed good, late snap, and he made left-handed batters look silly on a couple occasions.
Wood needs to find more consistency with the breaking ball before I say it’s above average, but based on the movement, I think it has the potential to get there. More than anything, I was impressed with the way it got better as the game went on. By the time he reached the fourth and fifth innings, it showed better location and movement. In his fifth and final inning, I saw four above average breaking pitches, including one he buried on the feet of a right-hander for a strikeout. The breaking pitch had better location glove side, while his attempts to spot it arm side resulted mostly in flat offerings.
Obviously, Wood is going to require some smoothing out. He came in with strange mechanics from Georgia, but it appears he has come a long way already, including a smoother finish. He still struggles with command, but it comes with time. I’m not prepared to say Wood has three above average pitches now, but he certainly has the potential, including a plus changeup. As I said on Twitter, I haven’t had that much fun watching a pitching prospect in a long time, and Wood really vaulted himself up in my book. You’ll be hearing about him in the upper levels soon.