CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (08/06)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Future Shock: The Mids... (08/01)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Consider... (08/08)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: The Be... (08/06)

August 6, 2012

Future Shock

Monday Morning Ten Pack, Austin Wood Edition

by Kevin Goldstein

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Austin Wood, RHP, Angels (Low-A Cedar Rapids)
It's 1:45 am and I have to write a Ten Pack, but I can't think about anyone but Austin Wood, who I saw pitch a little more than twelve hours ago at Kane County. I flipped between the Cubs and the White Sox games on the radio while driving home from the ballpark, but I still thought about Austin Wood. I made a lovely pasta dish from Amateur Gourmet with tomatoes from our garden but, while doing so, I thought about Austin Wood. I was able to at least move it to the back of my mind during the radio show I do on Sunday nights, but once that was over, there he was . . . Austin Wood. If I were a professional who was good at my job, I'd write your standard comment here about how Wood earned some notice early in the year with ten strikeouts in his first start of the year, and then five no-hit innings his second time out, but how he's been inconsistent ever since and has a 4.12 ERA, and how on Sunday he allowed just one run over seven innings while striking out six and blah blah blah. I'd write about his much-traveled amateur career and his stuff and his age and all that, and then I'd write nine more comments about nine other guys. But I can't think about nine other guys.

Austin Wood, RHP, Angels (Low-A Cedar Rapids)
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.

Austin Wood, RHP, Angels (Low-A Cedar Rapids)
The fact that he's a big guy who throws hard is nothing new, and as far as other pitches go, they can be just as confusing. He throws a change and some kind of hybrid breaking ball, both in the low 80s. Neither is good. Hell, neither is average, but every once in a while he'd drop a changeup in to the strike zone and it would be crisp, and it would freeze a batter. And when I say once in a while, I mean he did this maybe three times total during his seven frames. So part of you wants to say he doesn't have secondary pitches, and the other part is saying, no, he does have them. We've seen them. We don't see them enough, but they are there, and that's better than never seeing them at all.

Austin Wood, RHP, Angels (Low-A Cedar Rapids)
But how often are they seen? And how often does he find the strike zone with his fastball, even? He's made 23 starts for the Kernels this year, and he's allowed one or zero earned runs in 11 of them. Nearly half of the time he's been great. And then, there's the 4.12 ERA, just sitting there. There are some gems like Sunday or the no-hit outing. There are disasters like his May 30th outing against Wisconsin when he didn't get out of the first while facing eight batters, and then some downright weird ones like on May 13th in Cedar Rapids when he struck out seven over 4 2/3 innings while allowing just one hit, yet also walked seven. He can dominate, he can be a mess, and everything in between, and even if it was for just short stretches, I saw all three of those versions on Sunday.

Austin Wood, RHP, Angels (Low-A Cedar Rapids)
Then there is the trouble with the competition. I mean, how do you judge what a 22-year-old is doing against a Low-A lineup that features one legitimate prospect? Since promoting Orlando Calixte and Lane Adams to the Carolina League, Kane County's lone hitter who lights you up is Jorge Bonafacio, who seems to have run out of gas with the long season and the summer heat. He was great, but how great? Would that start, if you could replicate it pitch by pitch, work at Double-A Arkansas? High-A Inland Empire? I'm not sure, but I don't think anyone at either level hits that 98 mph fastball Wood finished the game with.

Austin Wood, RHP, Angels (Low-A Cedar Rapids)
And if you think the Kane County lineup was bad, you should have seen Cedar Rapids. Only one single-digit round pick, and that's a catcher hitting .227/.296/.345. Everyone else was a double-digit round pick, and only three of the nine even had an OPS over 700. And they played a major role in the day, as I was actually there (presumptively) to see Kyle Zimmer pitch against them. That's who people want to hear about, not Austin Wood. They want to hear about the fifth overall pick in the draft who signed for $3 million dollars and has the potential to be a star-level starting pitcher for an organization oh so desperate for one. That would be easy, as Zimmer was exactly as expected during his four innings, allowing three hits, walking two and striking out six. He had a 94-95 mph fastball that touched 97, a decent change that could use some refinement and one of those curveballs that is too good not only for Low-A hitters, but for Low-A umpires as well, as yesterday's home plate official often seemed as frozen as the guys with the bats, leading to several missed ball/strike calls. That would have been the easy comment, but I'm still thinking about Austin Wood.

Austin Wood, RHP, Angels (Low-A Cedar Rapids)
One of the few times I didn't think about Austin Wood during the game was when the Zooperstars were on the field. When do they get new ones? It's been the same ones for years and the latex outfits are getting faded and dirty. How much money do they make? How much money do the people in inflated suites make individually? There are the things you think about when some fringy NDFA is on the mound (Zimmer went only four) and you're waiting to see Wood again.

Austin Wood, RHP, Angels (Low-A Cedar Rapids)
But back to Wood. I know I'm not the first person to wonder what he is or, more importantly, what he can be. I know he was pretty awful as a freshman at Florida State, walking 25 and striking out 13 in just 22 2/3 innings. I know he wasn't good after leaving the Seminoles and enrolling at St. Petersburg Junior College, but he still showed enough of all the things I've tried to tell you about to be drafted by the Rays in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. He thought he could go higher, and for a while, it looked like he was right as he was arguably the best pitcher in the Cape Cod League. He transferred to Southern California with dreams of landing in the first round, but instead, we got a 5.61 ERA, 90 hits allowed in 77 innings and just 50 strikeouts. He was still big, and he still threw hard, and that was enough for the Angels to draft him in the sixth round and give him a $180,000 bonus. I would love to know what that discussion was like in the draft war room. I don't disagree with that number, as he's potentially worth far more than that. But what's the sell job here? Here's a guy who pitched really well in a handful of outings, but has otherwise been a mess for years, so...let's take him in the sixth round! Again, he looked like a hell of a lot more than a sixth-round pick on Sunday, but that had to have taken a lot of convincing at the time. These are the kind of things I wonder about while distracting me from trying to figure out what Austin Wood is. I wonder about how the talk in the war room went. I wonder about what every report from the signing scout, Tim Corcoran, looked like, and how much the scout's opinion of Wood changed throughout the spring. I wonder if Corcoran has seen him since, and what he thinks now. I wonder if the Angels are as confused as I am, or if they have some very real, concrete idea of what Austin Wood can be.

Austin Wood, RHP, Angels (Low-A Cedar Rapids)
So what can Austin Wood be? He's big, he throws very hard, he holds his stuff deep into games, and sometimes he has secondary pitches. When everything is on, he looks like a starting pitcher. Not just a good one, but a very good one. Even when it's not all there he looks like one of those frustrating starters who can never get everything going but has enough stuff anyway to be a number four, while you wonder why he's not better. Maybe coaches just find one good off-speed pitch he can throw consistently and, knowing that the fastball is always there, try to make him a reliever, maybe even a closer. And maybe nothing ever comes together, or the command and control go south, and the disaster starts become more frequent and he just never gets there. Every one of those scenarios makes sense to me at 2:30 am. Every damn one.

Austin Wood, RHP, Angels (Low-A Cedar Rapids)
That last pitch stuck with me. 98 miles per hour. With some run on it. Untouchable, at least at the Low-A level. Wood walked off the mound, and everyone behind home plate knew he was done for the day after seven strong innings. The first thing I did was find someone who had seen Wood far more than I have and ask the obvious question. “Why doesn't this guy dominate more?” There was a long pause, the kind that I misread assuming that the response would be brilliant, but take time to translate from thought into language. “I don't know,” he said. I'd like to think that like The Stranger at the end of The Big Lebowski that I can take comfort in that, but it's 3 a.m., and I'm still trying to wrap my head around Austin Wood.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

Related Content:  Prospects,  Scouting,  Minor Leagues

42 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

KerryFam4

Was disappointed that you didn't mention anything about Cedar Rapids' Austin Wood who had a very good start on Sunday. Maybe in the next Ten Pack?

Aug 06, 2012 05:08 AM
rating: 57
 
yadenr

Is this the highest rated comment ever? Where are the stats for that located?

Aug 14, 2012 13:26 PM
rating: 0
 
mrenick

so you're telling me that 2014 looks to be a rough season for the Arkansas Travelers?

Aug 06, 2012 05:50 AM
rating: 1
 
Tim Carvin

That is outstanding.

Aug 06, 2012 05:58 AM
rating: 3
 
Schere

I guess Machado picked a bad weekend to hit for the cycle, huh?

:) As always, I enjoyed your column.

Aug 06, 2012 06:27 AM
rating: 9
 
David Martin

Yeah, and Marc Krauss picked the wrong week to go .423/.500/1.077 with 5 HRs, 15 RBI and only 4 Ks with his new team.

That said, thanks for the fun article, KG. I saw your tweet last night that suggested this could be an all-Wood edition and was glad to see you follow through with that concept.

Aug 06, 2012 08:08 AM
rating: 5
 
PeterBNYC

Thanks, Kevin, for a modest celebratioon of the mystery that is baseball. Just as clubs can widely deviate from expected results, so can players. Auystin Wood could be a two-line dismissive comment in the next Annual, but thanks to you, I'll be interested in what happens to him until he is out of baseball- I hope, many seasons from now.

Aug 06, 2012 08:34 AM
rating: 10
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Thanks so much. That was the goal of the piece.

Aug 06, 2012 14:23 PM
 
jfranco77

How do the Zooperstars work? Do all of them go to every game? Was Barack Ollama in Kane County? Do they just bring a few? Who decides, OK, Nomar Garciaparrot is going on this trip, but Ken Giraffey Jr is staying home?

Can next Monday be a ten pack solely focused on the Zooperstars?

Aug 06, 2012 08:40 AM
rating: 10
 
nolansdad

Kevin, curious as to how many players you have seen this year that you could write this same type of column about.

Is Wood unique in his puzzling mix of ability and inconsistency, or is he like dozens of others in the minor leagues? Did you just have one of those moments/evenings where baseball and prospects and the whole gobble-dee-goop just didn't make sense anymore and Austin Wood was the benefactor?

Aug 06, 2012 09:08 AM
rating: 1
 
DeathSpeculum

An Arthur Digby Sellers tenpack forthcoming? one can only hope...

Aug 06, 2012 09:15 AM
rating: 0
 
gilgamesh

If you experience Wood for more than 12 hours, please consult a physician.

Aug 06, 2012 09:38 AM
rating: 18
 
Pat Folz

I think Parks is rubbing off on you...

Aug 06, 2012 11:35 AM
rating: 3
 
Craig Goldstein

Agreed. I thought this seemed a bit Parks-ian, perhaps a bit less poetic though. I enjoyed it immensely and hope you did too KG. Wouldn't mind seeing more of this (when it suits you) in the future.

Aug 06, 2012 14:30 PM
rating: 0
 
cdgarosi

Agree - I found this to be quite Parksian - from the early Patricia period I think.

Aug 06, 2012 14:31 PM
rating: 2
 
ShoelessCal
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

i had to pay to read that??? Hope there are better reason to renew

Aug 06, 2012 13:18 PM
rating: -25
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Why didn't you like it? It was a little creative, but I certainly hope you walked away with a good feeling for Austin Wood, a little bit about Kyle Zimmer and an appreciation for how tough it can be for scouts to predict the future. I had a 15 minute talk with a scout about Austin Wood because of this, and he seemed to like it. Just genuinely wondering what you found so offensive about this.

Aug 06, 2012 14:19 PM
 
Canuck
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

I can only speak for myself, and not that other guy, but if you wanted to write a full article about Austin Wood, you should have just done that. Cramming the same information into the Monday Ten Pack format was just silly. It strikes me as something somebody stoned on marijuana would think is a really funny thing to do. The result is something that seems like the punchline to one of those DirecTV ads ("Don't sell your hair to a wig shop.")

Aug 06, 2012 15:04 PM
rating: -11
 
joshilles

Better DirecTV punchline: Don't be that guy that just accused Kevin Goldstein of being stoned on marijuana. Get DirecTV instead.

Aug 06, 2012 16:10 PM
rating: -1
 
Canuck

I didn't accuse Goldstein of being stoned on marijuana. His idea to do what he did is just the sort of thing, I suggested, that someone stoned on marijuana would think is a really funny idea. There is a difference. Frankly, I would have let it lie and not said anything at all, but Goldstein seemed genuinely curious about why someone wouldn't like what he did.

Aug 06, 2012 17:31 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I was genuinely curious, just because I really liked it. Clearly, not everyone's cup o' tea.

Aug 06, 2012 20:31 PM
 
gilgamesh

They didn't like it because it was unexpected and wasn't something to easily fold into fantasy needs, driven by who just went 10-22 for 4 homers in A-ball. Instead it was an actual analysis of a player, and the complications of being him and being a 'prospect'. Good work.

Aug 06, 2012 20:41 PM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

Yeah...or they just didn't like it. So what? Is that a crime? Does that somehow offend you?

Aug 06, 2012 21:51 PM
rating: 2
 
GoTribe06

It does offend me to read comments on this site that tie every article to the little bit of money that the commenter spent to access the tons of content on this site. If they don't like (or can't appreciate) a well thought out article, or they disagree with an analysis, then it immediately becomes a case where they cannot believe that they are paying for it. I love the comment section at this site, and lots of great debate is sparked when people's opinions differ from the authors, but I think it is classless (and not constructive) to wave your subscription fees in the face of the authors at this site as if what they have created as no value.

Kevin, this was a terrific article. It was my favorite 10 Pack ever. I love that the game (and more particularly an individual player) was able to so inspire you. Keep up the great work

Aug 07, 2012 05:09 AM
rating: 2
 
amazin_mess

I hear ya. But it wasn't me that said that. I didn't hate the article, but I would prefer regular Monday Morning Ten Packs, that's all. The subscription fee we pay is still well worth it.

Aug 07, 2012 09:24 AM
rating: 3
 
gilgamesh

It wasn't you said that, but somehow it was you I was referring to. Maybe you should be less concerned with what you have decided offends me and more with the martyr complex that drove you to respond to a comment you don't believe should be about you.

Aug 07, 2012 10:32 AM
rating: -3
 
amazin_mess

I don't even know what you're talking about man.

Aug 07, 2012 13:40 PM
rating: 0
 
aNonBiasAttempt

Some didn't like it because it was different and unexpected. And people naturally don't like change. Screw them. It was awesome.

Aug 06, 2012 20:54 PM
rating: 2
 
amazin_mess

Not a fan either. I love Monday Morning Ten Pack and this wasn't the real deal. I'm far from mad about it, but I hope it returns to normal next Monday.

Aug 06, 2012 19:38 PM
rating: 2
 
Llarry

Why do people act as if their entire subscription pays for one single article? Do you throw away the whole pizza because the edge of one piece is a little bit burned?

Sure, it wasn't exactly my cup of tea, either, I'm just not that into Austin Wood, but I found it cool that Kevin felt compelled to write it and was able to reasonably pull it off. If every article were the same here, it'd be a lot less interesting...

Aug 06, 2012 16:07 PM
rating: 10
 
Behemoth

You and your logic. Are you stoned on marijuana too?

Aug 06, 2012 16:24 PM
rating: 1
 
yoramb

We get a ten-pack (almost) every Monday. Nothing will be lost if Kevin changes things up once in a while, and there's always a chance something will be gained. If you can't hit the off-speed stuff you'll never make it in the bigs.

Aug 06, 2012 14:36 PM
rating: 6
 
chrislakey

I liked the article; funny, informative. As always, Kevin brings it ...

Aug 06, 2012 15:59 PM
rating: 1
 
Youth_Movement

10 pack comes once a week and I'm interested in reading about all 10 players KG finds interesting enough to write about...not just 1 guy. I hope this isn't a regular occurence.

Aug 06, 2012 16:15 PM
rating: -3
 
Behemoth

It's not like you get Minor League Updates several times a week covering tens of different players or anything.

Aug 06, 2012 16:23 PM
rating: 7
 
This guy

To be fair, those have usually been coming once a week, or twice if we're lucky. I'd love to see more, but I guess Kevin is only one man.

Aug 06, 2012 21:39 PM
rating: 1
 
jfive613

Very fun and an interesting look at the variance in baseball and just how hard scouting can be. Maybe you could have a semi-regular column like this? Great work as always KG.

Aug 06, 2012 21:09 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Even though some Wood retired, there's still a lot of Wood left and it's confusing to an old guy like me.

Aug 06, 2012 22:48 PM
rating: -2
 
meloyellow15

First off, I thought the article was really interesting. Thanks Kevin! But I really don't understand why there is an outcry directed at those people that prefer the normal ten pack article. Even the comments criticizing the article were seemingly intended to be constructive.

Aug 07, 2012 01:54 AM
rating: 2
 
Behemoth

I think people are legitimately pointing out that it's only one article, and comments like:

i had to pay to read that??? Hope there are better reason to renew

are a bit ludicrous. That, and gently laughing at "stoned on marijuana" man.

Aug 07, 2012 03:53 AM
rating: 0
 
sacko83

I was stoned on marijuana while reading this and got really confused, and then scared, and then i looked at my cat and i relaxed.

Aug 07, 2012 02:46 AM
rating: 11
 
batts40

If KG wrote about one guy every Monday, and suddenly switched up and wrote about 10, people would find a way to complain about that, too. "I pay for in-depth analysis, blah blah blah..."

I enjoyed the article, thanks Sarge.

Aug 07, 2012 06:08 AM
rating: 2
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (08/06)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Future Shock: The Mids... (08/01)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Consider... (08/08)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: The Be... (08/06)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article League Preview Series
Every Team's Moneyball: Minnesota Twins: Reb...
Premium Article Skewed Left: History Repeats Itself
Premium Article League Preview Series
Premium Article Pitching Backward: Why Relievers Get A Free ...
Premium Article Spring Training Notebook: Cactus League
Prospectus Feature: How the Astros do Spring...

MORE FROM AUGUST 6, 2012
Fantasy Article Value Picks: Second, Short, and Catcher for ...
The Week in Quotes: July 30-August 5
Premium Article Collateral Damage Daily: Monday, August 6
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Monday, August 6
Premium Article The Call-Up: Josh Vitters
Premium Article The Call-Up: Brett Jackson
What You Need to Know: Monday, August 6

MORE BY KEVIN GOLDSTEIN
2012-08-08 - Premium Article Future Shock: Considering a Trout Extension
2012-08-08 - Premium Article Future Shock Blog: Minor League Update: Game...
2012-08-07 - Premium Article Future Shock Blog: Minor League Update: Game...
2012-08-06 - Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten Pack, Austi...
2012-08-06 - Premium Article The Call-Up: Brett Jackson
2012-08-06 - Premium Article The Call-Up: Josh Vitters
2012-08-03 - BP Podcast: Episode 100: I Just Realized I K...
More...

MORE FUTURE SHOCK
2012-08-15 - Premium Article Future Shock: The Bundy Dilemma
2012-08-13 - Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten Pack
2012-08-08 - Premium Article Future Shock: Considering a Trout Extension
2012-08-06 - Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten Pack, Austi...
2012-08-01 - Premium Article Future Shock: The Midseason Top 50 Prospects
2012-08-01 - Premium Article Future Shock: Ranking The Traded Prospects
2012-07-30 - Premium Article Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten Pack
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2013-04-08 - Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of April 5-April ...