BRANDON WOOD
SHORTSTOP
Born: March 2, 1985
Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 205
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 1st Round, 23rd Overall, 2003
How Acquired: Waiver Claim
College: Horizon HS (Scottsdale, AZ)
Agent: Gaylord Sports

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

Imagine Chad Hermansen times a hundred.  That’s Brandon Wood.  One of the most highly touted power-hitting prospects of recent times, much more so than Hermansen, his struggles at the major league level have far exceeded Hermansen’s.  Wood first came to prominence with a huge 2005 season in high A at age 20.  Baseball America rated him the 3rd best prospect in baseball after the season, followed by rankings of 8th and 16th the next two years.  Wood continued to put up big numbers in AA and over three seasons in AAA, but his hitting in repeated major league trials was historically bad.  He’s had extreme difficulty making contact, fanning in about a third of his ABs prior to coming to Pittsburgh, and he also hasn’t hit the ball hard when he’s made contact.  He’s had very low line drive rates and very high popup rates.

The contrast between Wood’s minor league success and severe major league struggles isn’t easy to explain.  Although he played in the two most extreme hitters’ leagues in high A and AAA, his home parks (Rancho Cucamonga and Salt Lake, plus Arkansas in AA) weren’t hitters’ parks relative to their leagues.  Even if you adjust for the leagues, his numbers remain impressive, especially if you take into account that he was generally young for his levels.  Even his K rates in the minors, although very high, weren’t as high as, say, Ryan Howard’s.

Defensively, Wood is considered more or less adequate at short.  His range isn’t good, but he has good hands and actions, and an above-average arm.  He’s played third some in the minors and about 60% of the time in the majors, as well as playing a handful of games at first.  UZR sees him as extremely poor at short and outstanding at third, +/- as poor at short and a little above average at third, but in both cases the sample sizes are small.  Some scouts, however, also consider him much better at third than short.

2003
R:  308/349/462, 78 AB, 8 2B, 2 3B, 4 BB, 15 K, 3-3 SB
R+:  278/348/475, 162 AB, 13 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 16 BB, 48 K, 1-2 SB

Debuted in rookie ball, posting an .810 OPS in 19 games, then moved up to the advanced rookie Pioneer League.  He hit for good power there, with weak plate discipline.

2004
A:  251/322/404, 478 AB, 30 2B, 5 3B, 11 HR, 46 BB, 117 K, 21-26 SB 

Wood’s hitting dropped off in low A and he continued to post marginal walk and K rates.

2005
A+:  321/383/672, 536 AB, 51 2B, 4 3B, 43 HR, 48 BB, 128 K, 7-10 SB
AAA:  316/316/526, 19 AB, 2 2B, 1 3B, 6 K

Wood had one of the best minor league seasons in memory; including a four-game stint in AAA, he piled up 101 extra base hits and 116 RBIs.  His plate discipline remained a red flag.  He followed by hitting 14 HRs in 29 games in the Arizona Fall League.

2006
AA:  276/355/552, 453 AB, 42 2B, 4 3B, 25 HR, 54 BB, 149 K, 19-23 SB

In AA, Wood didn’t hit quite as well but still showed excellent power.  He also fanned once every three ABs.

2007
AAA:  272/338/497, 437 AB, 27 2B, 1 3B, 23 HR, 45 BB, 120 K, 10-11 SB
MLB:  152/152/273, 33 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 12 K 

In AAA, Wood’s hitting slipped a little more, although he cut his K rate to one every three and a half ABs.  He played mostly third after spending almost all his time at short before then.  He got called up for several brief stretches and went 5-for-33.

2008
AAA:  296/375/595, 395 AB, 21 2B, 2 3B, 31 HR, 45 BB, 104 K, 6-11 SB
MLB:  200/224/327, 150 AB, 4 2B, 5 HR, 4 BB, 43 K, 4-4 SB 

The Angels called Wood up in late April and he played semi-regularly through mid-June, but struggled to keep his BA above .100.  He returned in late August and hit respectably, but overall his walk and K numbers were abysmal in the majors.  In between, he put up big numbers in AAA.  He split his time between short and third in the majors, and played mostly short in AAA.

2009
AAA:  293/353/557, 386 AB, 28 2B, 4 3B, 22 HR, 36 BB, 80 K, 1-2 SB
MLB:  195/267/292, 41 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 19 K 

Wood failed to win a job out of spring training and got only limited time in the majors, as the Angels had Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, Chone Figgins and Maicer Izturis in their infield.  One factor that may have hurt Wood, although it doesn’t nearly explain his problems hitting in the majors, is that the Angels for many years have had a strong preference for high-average contact hitters.  Given the hype surrounding Wood’s minor league numbers, the Angels were surprisingly reluctant to commit to him as a regular.  He continued to hit very well in AAA and reduced his K rate to less than one every five ABs.

2010
AAA:  196/241/255, 51 AB, 1 HR, 3 BB, 17 K
MLB:  146/174/208, 226 AB, 2 2B, 4 HR, 6 BB, 71 K, 1-1 SB 

Now out of options, Wood spent the year in the majors except for a rehab assignment.  He opened the season playing semi-regularly at third, but hit only .156 in April and May.  He played sparingly until September, when he played about half the time but hit just .068.  His plate discipline was obviously horrific.

2011
MLB (LAA):  143/143/214, 14 AB, 1 2B, 8 K
MLB (Pgh):  220/277/347, 236 AB, 9 2B, 7 HR, 19 BB, 65 K 

Wood started the season 2-for-14 and the Angels waived him in mid-April.  With the Pirates, he started at short during a couple stretches when either Ronny Cedeno was hurt or the Pirates appeared to be trying to light a fire under him, but mostly Wood played third.  During periods when Pedro Alvarez was either hurt or trying to straighten himself out in the minors, Wood shared third with Steve Pearce, Josh Harrison and/or Chase d’Arnaud in various permutations.  He also served as a defensive sub for Pearce and Alvarez.  He had probably his best major league stretch from the beginning of June until mid-July, hitting .253 and slugging .470, with five HRs in 83 ABs.  From then through August, though, he hit just .200.  He seldom played in September.  He did hit the ball much harder, greatly increasing his line drive rate, decreasing the number of popups and cutting his K rate from one every three to one every three and a half ABs.  His walk rate wasn’t good, but it was far better than it had been previously in the majors.

Wood made significant strides with the Pirates, but that’s mostly a reflection of just how awful he was with the Angels.  He’ll open 2012 at 27 and it’s hard to see a lot of improvement still coming.  The fact that he got only four starts in September, when the Pirates were clearly evaluating a lot of players for the future, served as an indication that they would remove him from the 40-man roster after the season, which is what they did.  His eligibility for arbitration probably didn’t help, either.  There’s probably still enough interest in him that it would make the most sense if he elected free agency.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2012: Arbitration eligible
2011:
$420,000
2010: $410,000
2009: $405,000
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $1,300,000
MiLB Debut: 2003
MLB Debut: 4/26/2007
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2015
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 4/26/2007
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2007, 2008, 2009)
MLB Service Time: 2.015
TRANSACTIONS
June 3, 2003: Drafted by the Anaheim Angels in the 1st round, 23rd overall; signed on June 6.
April 19, 2011: Designated for assignment by the Los Angels Angels.
April 22, 2011: Claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
October 31, 2011: Outrighted to AAA by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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