School: Plant High School, Tampa, Florida
Selected 2015 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (14): At #15 overall, Jake Woodford finished right in line with the community #14 vote after being drafted in the first round of the 2015 MLB draft. I was the first to pick Woodford, tabbing him at #9. Others did not join in until the vote for #12 came along. Ultimately, Woodford did not receive the community majority until pick #15.
One reason I like Woodford is his credentials, including his frame (6-foot-4), his fastball velocity (95 MPH), his first round draft status, signing over-slot, and his good professional debut in the GCL straight out of high school. One reason the early voting for Woodford was slim was, as MagnoliaCardFan put it, that the Cardinals have a large pool of pitchers in his age range with that type of velocity or even more.
Desmetlax12 pointed out that Baseball Prospectus reported that he commands four pitches well. Desmetlax12 thinks Woodford is somewhat like Shelby Miller coming out of high school as well as liking that Woodford utilizes his height to throw a nice sinking fastball on a downward plane. - Jeremy Byrd
Derek Shore (21): The Cardinals used their 39th overall pick, last of their two first round picks, on the Florida high school right-hander Woodford. Soon after his selection, he signed s $1.8 million over slot bonus, an increase over the $1.5 million value attached to the 39th overall selection.
After signing, Woodford was assigned to Gulf Coast League affiliate and despite workload limitations, had a 2.39 ERA in 26 1/3 innings pitched over eight games (five starts). He struck out 21 and walked seven. Noteworthy, the right-hander finished strongly, scattering a five-hit shutout across five innings with no walks and seven strikeouts.
In the Florida baseball hotbed, Woodford's high school team, Plant High School, was scouted heavily -- thanks to his fellow teammate Kyle Tucker, who was drafted 5th overall by the Houston Astros. Woodford drew a range of opinions from scouts because of his fairly underwhelming stuff but what attracted them was his prototypical starter's build, 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, and consistent delivery that leaves room for projection.
A Cardinals scout gave me his impression which differs from some of the so-so pre-draft perception of Woodford. The scout noted his great body and delivery while he saw a plus fastball with solid secondary offerings - breaking ball and changeup. The breaker has plus potential with a quality feel for his change shown. Nonetheless, he didn't come out of his delivery and the scout sees quite a bit of upside in him as a starter with nothing ahead or behind in his repertoire.
"That is huge; he just needs to come ready to go to Spring Training," the scout concluded.
Brian Walton (11): As I mentioned before, I was pretty clear about my personal top 10, but after that, I perceived a considerable drop off. That implies nothing about my number 11 pick, Woodford, other than uncertainty due to unfamiliarity.
Like other pitching draftees, the Cardinals had Woodford on a careful throwing program that included just one game appearance per week. No matter how efficient the pitcher could be, it would be a real challenge to remain on the mound long enough to qualify for a win. Plus there was the reality of tandem starts. Still, as noted above, Woodford’s numbers were very solid across the board before he was shut down at least one outing early.
One item not mentioned above was Woodford’s extreme ground ball tendency. His rate of 4.6 ground outs to one fly out is very, very impressive. In fact, no other pitcher in the entire Cardinals system in 2015 – whether starter or reliever - was even close. For what it is worth, major leaguer Jaime Garcia was next.
Stack being a ground ball machine on top of his good physical size, mid-90’s velocity and two solid secondary pitches – all at the age of 18 - and there is a lot to potentially get excited about.
Since the Cardinals excused all 2015 draftees from fall instructional league camp, I have not been able to see him throw in person yet. So I am going mostly from all the positive reports from others, similar to those preceding this section, his stat sheet as well as his draft placement and above-slot bonus.
On my personal list, I placed Woodford ahead of a more accomplished pitcher in Austin Gomber. Considering the latter has yet to appear in this countdown and is the system’s reigning co-Pitcher of the Year, the relative ranking indicates a relatively healthy level of confidence in Woodford’s potential.
All of this from a player whose pick was added to the Cardinals’ arsenal based on their placement in MLB’s Competitive Balance Lottery, in Round A. That is even more important given the team did not receive a corresponding 2016 selection.
Our 2016 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
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