Editor’s Note: the red baron has once again written up a very large number of prospects, done a great job on them, and combined them in just a few posts. You can read those posts, including a dozen reports on players who just missed the list by going here. This post contains a write-up of just a single prospect in a perhaps easier to digest form.-CE
#16: Jake Woodford, RHP
6’4”, 210 lbs; R/R; 28 October 1996
Relevant Stats: 21 GS, 108.2 IP, 3.31 ERA (Low A Peoria)
So, what’s so great about this guy?
After making his debut in the Gulf Coast League last summer by rolling up a huge ground ball total, Woodford made the jump all the way over the two short-season affiliates of the Cardinals, going straight to full season Peoria. The numbers were good, but not spectacular, as he struck out a middling number of hitters, kept the walks down but not to an amazing degree, and actually didn’t show nearly as much of a groundball tendency in 2016 as he had in 2015.
However, Woodford did throw a full season, averaged over five innings per start, and just generally held his own as a teenager in full season ball. That’s certainly something, even if the results were more solid to good than great.
The scouting report on Woodford honestly hasn’t changed a whole lot since last year, and I really don’t expect it to change that much going forward, either. He throws a sinker, and it’s good. He throws it a lot.
Okay, to be fair, Woodford did experiment with his offspeed pitches a little more this season, trying to develop the feel for his changeup and gain some consistency with a below-average slider, but his bread and butter is always going to be that bowling-ball sinker. He locates it well already, and has the sort of low-maintenance delivery that I could see lending itself to plus command down the road. How well he can develop those offspeed pitches will probably have a lot to say in what his ceiling ends up being, but the bulk of what matters for Woodford is probably always going to come down to how well that sinker is sinking on a given day.
Player Comp: I know I threw out both Doug Fister and early-career Rick Porcello (before Porcello really started to add to his arsenal), as comparables for Woodford, and both still stand well enough. Derek Lowe comes to mind as the most sinker-dependent of all the sinker-slider guys, maybe.