Mid-Season Prospect-Palooza: Gold Stars for Matt Brazis & Grady Wood (Part 2: Wood)

@@gold-star-customer-service== Two pitchers conquering the desert this year ==

And Matt Brazis was not the only one who has put in excellent work in a tough environment.

Grady Wood, like Brazis, was picked in the 2012 draft (10th round out of Western Oregon).  Unlike Brazis, he didn’t arrive with a flurry of strikeouts, but he put up very nice all-around numbers at Everett and Clinton, and ended up with Brazis in High Desert at the end of 2013.

While Brazis managed to avoid the usual gopheritis in the desert wind, Wood didn’t.  He gave up three homers in his 14 home games, and ended with a 7.54 home ERA.  It wasn’t quite as bad as all that (.343 BABIP; 5.27 FIP), but he struggled with both walks and extra-base hits.

Could he figure it out when he was re-assigned to the Mavericks for 2014?  Yes.

Wood has saved his spot on the pecking order with a brilliant 2014.  He’s figured out how to survive, giving up only six doubles and two homers in home games for a .240/.305/.344 slash-line-against at home.  [Compare to Dominic Leone’s tour of duty there: .241/.280/.368.]

And he’s been even better on the road, yielding only one homer and racking up a sterling 12.5 K/9 in away parks.  His road FIP is 1.97 [Leone’s was 2.01.]

Year Age Tm Lev ERA IP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9
2012 22 Everett A- 2.17 37.1 1.179 7.0 0.0 3.6 8.4
2013 23 Clinton A 2.50 39.2 1.084 6.6 0.2 3.2 7.3
2013 23 High Desert A+ 5.01 41.1 1.476 8.7 0.9 4.6 8.1
2014 24 High Desert A+ 3.27 52.1 1.204 8.1 0.5 2.8 10.7

Wood doesn’t have Leone’s pure stuff, but he’s got a funky sidearm approach  — not whippy, but sort of flingy — and it’s given RH hitters fits so far (11.2 K/9 vs. RH hitters this year).

And we’ve found that the guys who can make it work in the desert have a pretty good shot.

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One thought on “Mid-Season Prospect-Palooza: Gold Stars for Matt Brazis & Grady Wood (Part 2: Wood)

  1. The rule of High Desert (as it pertains to pitchers): showing poorly there does not disqualify you from future greatness, but showing well there… that puts a bullet by your name. We changed our affiliation to HD (not of our own free will, they were the only chair left in the dance) in 2007. Since then, who showed well (controlled their hits against, kept their Ks and walks in the proper order)?

    2007: Chris Tillman had an ERA over 5 and 4+ BB/9 against 9 Ks. He was about the best that year. Like I said, it doesn’t DQ you…

    2008: Shawn Kelley had a brief stop and killed it. He’s had a pretty nice ML career. Aaron Cotter gave up almost 10 hits per, but got lucky with a 3.50 ERA. He got destroyed in AA and thrown out of baseball, basically.

    2009: Mauricio Robles, a favorite of mine even with his walks problem (5+ per in HD). Ripped up his shoulder, lost his career. Pineda was tremendous in HD, and that really piqued my interest. He started adding velo like a crazy person shortly thereafter. Jake Wild gave up too many hits, and it got worse the next year. He ended up like Cotter in short order. HD can be the death of a pitcher.

    2010: Moran was good in his brief stint – and ever since, even without much velocity. He’d have been a major league this year if he hadn’t ripped up his arm. Tony Vasquez was pretty good, but even then he couldn’t even strike out 6 per. That was a sign. Penney was decent with great control – but control artists usually cough it up in AA against guys who can hit a changeup, and that was his wall too.

    2011: Steve Delabar was decent in a brief stint. He’s been an All-Star. Kesler gave up too many hits despite his decent ERA, and Kasparek didn’t have the velo (nor the plus pitches) to survive with that game at higher levels.

    2012: Miller, Carson Smith, Burgoon, Tony Fernandez, Kohlscheen and Elias were all varying degrees of good this year. It was a veritable feast. Miller was a control artist who lost his control at higher levels, Good retired, Smith and Kohlscheen are still a couple of our better-rated relief arms and Elias is hangin’ in there in the bigs. 🙂

    2013: Colvin and Leone nailed it. Colvin was doing well in AA to start the year, and Leone is obviously find in the bigs. Landazuri did pretty well for a starter, Pries got more runs charged to him than he should have, and a couple other people (like Brazis) gave up too many walks.

    2014: Brazis and Wood, like you mentioned, are killing it. Oliver Garcia is giving up too many walks and Shipers too many hits. Of the two I like Garcia better. He’s still not very hittable. Tyler Olson also did well, which is why he got promoted. Dude is just rocketing up the system.

    So, of those guys: anybody who controlled their hits essentially got a free pass to the upper minors and bigs, slowed only by injury. If the HD success was based off soft-tossing, it was far more likely to crumple under the brighter lights of AA (some guys like Moran were the exception). If you can throw hard and defeat HD, though, the world is basically yours.

    Brazis throws harder than Wood, but Wood’s arm angle makes him TOUGH on righties. I like the chances of both guys… and watch out for Garcia. His walks are starting to go from tears-inducing to something resembling reasonable, and he can’t be hit (career 7.5 per 9) which puts him in the Cleto / Medina camp. As much as I don’t feel safe with Yoervis on the mound, he’s still a real pitcher (although he couldn’t conquer High Desert).

    Few people can – but watch the ones who do. 🙂 They’ve got a coin-flip chance of getting a big-league career if they can master it.

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