Tigers Prospect Profile #39: Austin Wood

After a very successful college campaign at the University of Texas, the Tigers snagged Wood in the fifth round of the '09 draft. The Tigers hope the advanced left-hander can move quickly up the ladder.

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

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.

After signing with the Tigers, the now 23-year old appeared in three games for the Advanced-A Lakeland club, totaling five scoreless innings of work. Wood allowed only four hits and no walks, while striking out four.

Wood was a star of the Tigers Fall Instructional League, dominating the raw competition of the league, and proving exactly why the Tigers picked him where they did.

In college, Wood was routinely named to the Big 12 Academic Honor Roll, while also earning mention on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list in 2007. Wood worked largely as a starter during his sophomore and junior seasons, where he was a quality arm for Texas; combining for a 15-4 record.

As a freshman, Austin was outstanding, tying Huston Street's Texas record for freshman appearances with 35, while also earning 1st Team Freshman All-American honors. Wood led the Longhorns in saves as well, which also landed him in sixth place in the conference.

Scouting Report
Wood is a classic strike throwing machine, and he works the ball to all four quadrants of the strike zone with ease. He lowered his arm angle significantly, becoming a side-arm pitcher with a fastball that sits in the 88-90 range, touching 91 with regularity. He gets good run on the pitch, and he works it low in the zone consistently. Wood's fastball isn't overpowering, but with the lowered arm angle it gets on left-handed hitters and is difficult to lift.

He also mixes an above-average change-up that keeps right-handers off balance, and it could become a plus pitch with more repetition. Wood has yet to develop a consistent breaking ball, and even in a relief role, he would be well served to get a breaking ball that can be relied upon a few times an outing. Some scouts believe he could develop a fringy slider, but it may take time.

Wood is a bulldog on the mound, and he is aggressive, refusing to back down from anybody that stands in the batter's box. He is calm under pressure and he can handle any role handed to him. His polish and mental makeup will play well in a relief role, where he is expected to be big league ready in short order.














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Health Record
Wood showed no ill effects from the abuse forced on him during the NCAA tournament this spring/summer, as he pitched extremely well after signing with the Tigers. He has always been durable, and trainers have never indicated even as much as arm soreness from him. Wood will be handled with the same restrictions as all first-year relievers in 2010, with limits on pitching back-to-back games, etc., but he should be fine.

The Future
Wood is rumored to be have earned a non-roster invitation to spring training, where he will be given a chance to earn a spot on the Tigers' roster for Opening Day. With Bobby Seay, Fu-Te Ni, Phil Coke, Nate Robertson, Daniel Schlereth, and Brad Thomas all as potential candidates for the bullpen, there are a host of lefties ahead of him in the pecking order. Wood could likely pitch in the big leagues right now, but he may be forced to bide his time in the minor leagues – likely at Erie or Toledo – for a few months before making his big league debut.

Wood will be a Major League reliever, and he will likely be one for a long time. He has deception, solid-average stuff, and a fierce mentality on the mound; all of which should lend well to being a high-leverage reliever in a big league bullpen.

Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.

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