A couple of Braves minor league pitching prospects have been doing pretty well lately.
People are starting to pat attention to Alex Wood, one of the hottest pitchers on the M-Braves staff and rightly so. Wood was named Southern League Pitcher of the Week for April 22-28. In five starts for the M-Braves this season, Wood is 1-1 with a 0.67 ERA and a 0.00 ERA in his last 18.2 innings pitched. The 22 year old southpaw hasn’t allowed a run since April 12th and with five scoreless last Saturday broke Tommy Hanson’s 2008 record. That 0.67 overall ERA leads the Southern League and his 0.89 WHIP ranks fifth. the 6’4” 215 pound lefty averages just over 10 strikeouts and walks less than two batters every nine innings. His 2.83 groundball/fly ball rate and has yet to surrender a home run.
Wood was selected by Braves in second round of the 2011 draft, one of two University of Georgia picks (Levi Hyams 2b) last year and signed June 9, 2011. When the season began Baseball America ranked him as the Braves seventh best prospect. Wood credits some of his success this season to a knuckle-curve he learned in spring training from Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters. MLB prospect Watch said of Wood:
Even without the pitch, Wood was doing well in the minors, but his new pitch appears to have given him a true strikeout pitch, which, if true, has the potential to increase his ceiling from a mid-rotation lefty to a potential number two starter.
Braves next-in-line lefty behind Mike Minor threw eight innings of one-run baseball taking his record to 2-0 on the season and lowering his ERA to 2.40. His WHIP is still a bit high at 1.433 but it is early in the season and he’s not a big strikeout guy averaging 4.2 per nine. His WHIP could drop quite a bit is he can get his walk rate of 3.9 per nine innings down.
Both Wood and Gilmartin were drafted out of college in order to get them to Atlanta sooner, a plan that looks to be working out pretty well.