Editor’s Note: A.E. Schafer aka the red baron has once again compiled a rather impressive list of Cardinals prospects doing a write-up on 40 individual prospects. As a convenience to our readers, he releases the list in a couple big chunks so everyone can read about all of the prospects at once. While that is a convenience to all of us who eagerly await the arrival of prospect lists, it might not be as convenient if you are looking for a player’s particular scouting report. So, as a further convenience, we are putting the individual scouting reports in separate posts to make individual players easier to find. You can find the full lists on our 2018 prospect page here. —CE
#25: Jake Woodford, RHP
6’4”, 210 lbs; Bats/Throws: Right/Right
DOB: 28 October 1996; Drafted Supp. Round 1 2015
Level(s) in 2017: Palm Beach (High A)
Notable Numbers: 23 G, 119 IP, 14% K, 7.6% BB, 45.2% GB, 4.08 FIP
So, what’s so great about this guy?
Coming out of Plant High School in Florida, Woodford was one of the best second-tier starting pitchers in the 2015 draft. He wasn’t quite on the Carson Fulmer/Kolby Allard/Dillon Tate tier of pitchers, but he was very much in that second group of guys. At the time, he had a great sinking fastball that would touch 95, a solid slider, and some feel for a changeup. In other words, a high school repertoire, but a really good one.
Since that time, things haven’t really gone all that well for Woodford, if we’re being honest. He’s taken the ball every time the call has come, which is certainly encouraging, but the stuff has backed up a bit. His sinker is still easily his best pitch, sitting around 92-93, but the rest of his pitches just haven’t developed to my eye. He’s added a little cutter that looks okay, but the slider isn’t as sharp as it was, and the changeup is still just sort of there. It’s not terrible; he sells the change with pretty good arm speed. It doesn’t have a ton of movement, though, and actually seems to sink less than his sinker. Or, at the very least, he’s more prone to missing location up with the pitch.
There’s still some pretty good materials for Woodford to work with as he tries to hone his arsenal. The sinker gives him one true plus pitch, which is more than a lot of pitchers ever manage. But the fact so much of the rest of his repertoire has sort of stalled out can’t be ignored. I like him better than Connor Jones, who actually has the better sinker but is even more of a one-pitch pitcher, I believe, and think Woodford should be kept in a starting rotation as long as possible.
If he’s good, it will look like: Doug Fister and Derek Lowe are always my mental comps for a tall, willowy sinker artist, and I think I might have thrown Fister on Woodford last year. At his best, though, Fister had not only an excellent moving two-seam fastball, but one of the stronger curves in the game as well. Woodford, with his lesser range of speeds and greater reliance on the sinker, fits the Lowe model of pitcher better. I worry about these sorts of low-strikeout contact pitchers who live at the bottom of the zone these days, given how much less safe pitches at the knees seem to be in the current environment.