Julio Teheran, J.R. Graham and Sean Gilmartin are all young pitchers generating the most attention for the Atlanta Braves in spring training. But don’t sleep on Alex Wood.
The 22-year-old left-hander took full advantage of his few weeks in spring training. Wood finished his spring last Thursday by allowing his only earned run against the St. Louis Cardinals. Wood compiled a 1.29 ERA and 1.57 WHIP (eight hits, three walks) while recording three strikeouts in seven innings of work.
That’s a small sample size to work with, but the 2012 second round pick out of the University of Georgia demonstrated what can make him a successful pitcher at the next level. Wood consistently hits mid-90s with his fastball that appears faster with a quirky delivery in which he explodes off the mound in the direction of the batter. He combines that with a hard slider and changeup to make him especially effective on left-handed hitters. Pitchers Tim Hudson and Kris Medlen described his arsenal of pitches to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman as “nasty” and “insane.”
That’s high praise from some successful MLB pitchers, but Wood still has some growing to do in the minors before he makes an impact at the next level. He has just 13 professional starts under his belt at Single-A Rome in 2012 (2.22 ERA and 52 strikeouts) and will likely begin the 2013 season at Double-A Mississippi. Similar to Graham, it is unclear whether Wood will make his impact as a starter or reliever.
For now, he will be stretched out as a starter, but it’s a situation that will likely play itself out. As long as he continues to impress as he did in his brief stint in the minors last year and spring this year, the Braves will utilize the talented lefty. There’s a reason why the Braves took Wood in the second round. He has talent, so don’t sleep on it.