Good Wood

Remember when Brandon Wood was a top prospect? Back in 2005, he had a ridiculous 98 extra base hits in the California League, posting a .672 slugging percentage (along with a .323 average and .383 OBP). He added three more extra base hits that season in triple-A, giving him 101 XBHs for the season. Not bad for a 20-year-old shortstop.

In 2006 he hit .276/.355/.552 with 25 homers and 18 steals (and was only caught three times) as a 21-year-old in double-A. Excellent, right? Yet many people chose to focus on his 149 strikeouts in 118 games, and glossed over his otherwise-fantastic season.

Then in 2007 he was promoted to triple-A, where he hit .272/.338/.497 for Salt Lake, a notorious hitter’s park in a notorious hitter’s league. Sure enough, his OPS was 100 points higher at home than on the road. And he struck out 120 times in 111 games. To further complicate things, he struggled mightily in 33 at bats with the big league team, hitting .152/.152/.273 and striking out 12 times.

In 2008 Wood seemingly regained his stroke, posting an impressive .295/.375/.595 line with 31 homers (in just 103 games) in triple-A, although he did strike out 104 times. While his OPS was once again almost 100 points higher at home than on the road, he still managed to post a .913 OPS on the road, and he hit 15 road homers as well.

But he once again disappointed in 150 at bats with at the major league level, hitting .200/.254/.327. However, Wood did stroke five homers and steal four bases, although he also struck out in over 28% of his plate appearances.

There are a few things to keep in mind about Wood. First, and most importantly, he’s only 23 years old. That is still quite young, and there is still plenty of time for him to fix the various flaws in his game.

Secondly, Wood actually had two separate stints with the Angels this season. The first time around, he hit .125/.164/.188 with 1 homer, while striking out in 33% of his plate appearances. The second time, he hit .256/.270/.430 with four homers, while striking out in 25% of his plate appearances. While this isn’t great, it’s a marked improvement.

Finally, Wood was extremely good in triple-A this year. Even though he played in a hitter’s park in a hitter’s league, his Major League Equivalent (MLE) was .235/.316/.436 with 22 homers in 408 at bats. He also stole 6 bases. Obviously, that’s not fantastic, but it’s also not bad, especially for a guy who will qualify at shortstop.

Brandon Wood is still very young, and still has tremendous power potential. He will strike out a lot, and therefore probably won’t hit for a very high batting average. However, he’s likely to qualify at shortstop – and perhaps third base – and should hit a lot of homers – and even steal some bases – if given playing time.

Wood could be an excellent late-round flier, as he has a tremendous amount of upside and will likely be given a chance in the fairly near future.

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