The Detroit Tigers Minor League affiliates seasons are now officially in the books. With another season completed, the time has come for me to announce the 2011 MCB Down on the Farm All-Star Team.
In an effort to reward less talked about prospects, only players that did not receive a call-up to Detroit this season were eligible. While you may recognize some of the names, remember these awards aren’t a pronouncement of the Tigers top prospects. The awards were based heavily upon the best overall statistical season per position.
Similar to previous years, the breakdown of the roster will consist of one player per position, a designated hitter, five starting pitchers and five relievers.
2011 MCB Down on the Farm All-Star Team: LHP Austin Wood
TEAM: AA-Erie SeaWolves
STATS: 62 2/3 IP 5-5 3.16 ERA 1.36 WHIP 8.2 H/9 4.0 BB/9 8.8 K/9 0.7 HR/9
The Detroit Tigers selected Austin Wood in the fifth round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Texas. The 6’2″, 195 pound left-handed pitcher is predominantly known for his 169 pitch, 14 strikeout effort in the ’09 College World Series. Unfortunately, prior to last season, Wood had logged just 7 1/3 innings of professional baseball-likely because of the abuse to his arm in college. However, fresh off of minor shoulder surgery, Wood began his first full season of pro-ball in AA-Erie last season.
Wood delivers the ball from a quirky, low 3/4 and almost sidearm delivery. He hides the ball pretty well though and is able to consistently create deception and throw quality strikes from his delivery and repeated mechanics. When drafted, his command and control were also rated tops in the Tigers organization by Baseball America.
Wood features a three pitch repertoire that consists of a fastball, slider and change-up. His fastball sits regularly in the high 80’s and can hit as high as the low 90s. His high 70’s, low 80’s change-up is perhaps his best offering. It projects as a plus offering and Wood can already effectively throw it to both left and right-handed batters. His arsenal is rounded out with a serviceable slider that is often described as work in progress.
In a nutshell, Woods bread and butter is painting corners and keeping hitters off balance and guessing. He accomplishes this by solid command and control and lots of confidence. His velocity isn’t through the roof and he doesn’t exactly blow it by hitters. He has a strong baseball IQ though and he simply knows how to attack hitters.
BEHIND THE NUMBERS:
Several numbers stood out to me when I glanced over Woods 2011 season. Striking out nearly a batter an inning is always impressive, especially when your a left-handed reliever. Perhaps the most impressive number to me though was 62 2/3. Prior to this season, he had logged just 7 1/3 innings since being drafted in 2009. The fact that Wood was able to recover from his shoulder surgery, stay healthy and log nearly 63 quality innings was definitely a step in the right direction and encouraging to me.
Diving in a bit more, a simple glance at his walk and hit ratios and I’m sure you’re not very impressed. A year on the shelf with shoulder issues may have had something to do with the command issues though. If it becomes a trend then yes I’m concerned but the fact that he surrendered nearly a hit per inning and pedestrian walk ratios doesn’t scare me away. In short, I’m still very high on Woods future with the Tigers.
Plain and simple, he is an interesting lefty relief prospect if he can simply stay healthy. As I discussed earlier, the hits, walks and home runs must come down. His ability to pound the strike zone, miss bats and attack both sides of the plate make him a top prospect to me though. The soon-to-be 25-year-old isn’t exactly a spring chicken though, so next season will likely tell us a lot more about how the Tigers organization feels about Woods future in Motown.
I expect Wood to get an invitation to spring training and begin the 2012 season in the Triple-A Toledo ‘pen. Congratulations to Austin Wood for an outstanding season!
2011 MCB Down on the Farm All-Stars
Next Up: The Bullpen