Tigers Prospect Profile #22: Austin Wood

Coming off shoulder surgery in 2010, Austin Wood had a strong 2011 campaign in Erie, filling a variety of roles out of the bullpen. Could the left-hander have a shot at Detroit's bullpen this season, and what sort of role is he likely to fill?

Austin Wood
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-2
Weight: 190
Born: 11/2/1986
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Background
Wood drew national attention for his role in an epic NCAA regional game against Boston College, throwing 13 innings and totaling nearly 170 pitches; all in relief. While this performance scared off many teams, the Tigers popped the durable left-hander on the fifth round of the 2009 draft.

Wood made a brief pro debut that summer, tossing five scoreless innings with High-A Lakeland before the season ended. He missed significant time in 2010 after undergoing relatively minor shoulder surgery, appearing in only two games for Lakeland.

Healthy entering the 2011 season, Wood spent the entire season with Double-A Erie, appearing in 50 games out of the bullpen. He posted a 3.16 ERA in 62 2/3 innings of work, allowing only 57 hits and 28 walks, striking out 61 batters along the way.

Scouting Report
Wood works from a lower arm slot and sits with fringe-average velocity that will touch 92 mph on occasion. He has some sink on his two-seamer and his four-seamer has gained more life and become a better offering. His fastball can be difficult to lift because he so consistently works low in the zone.

His best secondary pitch is an above-average change-up that flashes as a 60-grade pitch. He maintains his arm speed well when throwing the pitch and it has good deception. He can utilize the pitch against left-handers but it is far more valuable when worked away from right-handers.

Wood improved his slider over the course of the 2011 season and continued to work on it during this off-season. Previously a below-average pitch, he has tightened the spin and improved the bite, making it a potential average pitch.

Wood is a strike thrower that pounds the zone with all three pitches and isn't afraid to challenge hitters with his best pitch at any time in the count. He understands pitch sequencing and shows the traits of an artist on the mound.

Without overpowering stuff, Wood falls short of the classic setup or closer profile. With just a little more polish he could profile as a good bullpen lefty or seventh inning reliever that can pitch to any hitter.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

WHIP

AA

Erie

5-5

3.16

50

0

6

61

28

62.2

1.36


Health Record
It's possible that the collegiate workload finally caught up to Wood in 2010 after he was forced under the knife for a minor shoulder operation. He showed no ill effects in 2011 as he showed good stuff and stamina all season long.

The Future
After a successful season in Double-A, Wood is slated to begin the year in Toledo where he will be just a short drive from the big leagues. Beyond Phil Coke, the Tigers don't have a lock down lefty reliever and that could allow the door to open for Wood to make his big league debut in 2012.

Long term, Wood projects as a solid bullpen lefty that can get outs in any situation.

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