Promote Brandon? Wood If I Could…

As a ‘prospect watcher’ there is nothing more frustrating than standing by while a young player gets left to rot in the Minor Leagues when it’s clear that the player is ready for that next step.

Brandon Wood is a power-hitting infielder with the Los Angeles Angels and he has been considered one of the organization’s top prospects since he was drafted in the first round of the 2003 draft after being selected out of an Arizona high school. Originally a shortstop, Wood has also seen time at the hot corner.

It’s hard to believe Wood is only 23. It seems like he has been knocking on the big league door forever. After one half-season of Rookie Ball, Wood played in full-season ball for the first time at the age of 19 and held his own with a line of .251/.322/.404 in 478 at-bats.

Promoted to High-A ball the next season, Wood erupted for 51 doubles and 43 homers in 536 at-bats with a line of .321/.383/.672. The hype that followed was not fair; Wood was playing in Rancho Cucamonga, which is an excellent park for hitters. Yes, he is a good hitter, but he is not that good. Wood then hit 20-plus homers the next two seasons and was considered a disappointment even though he was almost ready for a cup of coffee in the Majors at the age of 21.

Now in his second full season of Triple-A, Wood is currently hitting .291/.355/.606 with 27 homers in 327 at-bats. That said, there are negatives to his game. Wood strikes out a lot (although the K% is on the decline from 32.9 to 27.5 to 26) and his defence is just OK. He has struggled in big league call-ups in both 2007 and 2008 for a combined line of .134/.160/.216 in 97 at-bats, but he also needs consistent playing time.

What is perhaps most perplexing is that the names of the players keeping Wood in the minors include Maicer Izturis, Chone Figgins, Erick Aybar and Robb Quinlan. All those players are Major Leaguers – and deservedly so – but none of them offer the kind of power and offensive upside that Wood does. Given that the Angels are ninth out of 14 American League teams in terms of homers and 10th in slugging percentage, they could use the added muscle.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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