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Top 30 Prospects: #15 Jake Woodford

In collaboration with Kyle Reis and Birds On The Black, I’m proud to present you with the Cardinals Top 30 Prospects! Every other day over the next day two months, we’ll be providing you with another in-depth scouting report on one of the best 30 prospects in the organization. Today, we have #15, Jake Woodford

15. Jake Woodford – RHP

1st Round – 2015 Draft
Entering age-21 season

Register Pitching
Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff W L W-L% ERA RAvg G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2017 20 -3.1 Palm Beach FLOR A+ STL 7 6 .538 3.10 4.31 23 21 0 0 0 0 119.0 128 57 41 7 39 0 72 9 0 5 513 1.403 9.7 0.5 2.9 5.4 1.85
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/26/2018. 

What I Like

There’s so much I love about Jake Woodford. I aggressively ranked him 12th on my personal list. Perhaps 12th is too high, perhaps not, but I see a safe bet in Woodford. Where Junior Fernandez was shaky, Woodford wasn’t, and at a similar age. Among qualifying pitchers, Woodford’s 3.10 ERA was the best in the Florida State League.

Woodford looks like a pitcher. He’s tall (6’4”), with clean mechanics and a Dave Duncan-era sinker. Notice the difference in the following fastballs:

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

The first, from when he was in high school, is flat. In the second, from his 2016 season in Peoria, has noticeably more sink, even though it’s from a different angle. Fangraphs reported that his velocity dropped from 95 in high school to 92 last season. In a vacuum, that’s a negative development. If he’s sacrificing a little bit of velocity in exchange for more movement, I don’t think that’s a bad thing especially if 95 is still there when he needs it.

It’s only one game, but I love that Woodford pitched well in the postseason. He was the number one on a team that was Florida State League co-champions (due to hurricanes, they did not complete the playoffs). Woodford allowed one run over six innings in his only start. The Cardinals emphasize winning at the minor league levels, so Woodford’s key role in a championship shouldn’t be overlooked.

Statistically, Woodford didn’t allow very many homers and his BB%, which was around 7%, isn’t bad.

The biggest positive regarding Woodford is his age. He completed his age-20 season at High-A and led the league in ERA. By itself, that’s quite the accomplishment. Paired with an organization that churns out righthanded pitchers like clockwork, optimism regarding Woodford’s development is warranted.

What I Don’t Like

It’s becoming a running theme with Cardinals pitchers at the low levels (Tewes and Fernandez come to mind), but Woodford didn’t strike out enough hitters. Part of that is because, in my opinion, Woodford has sacrificed velocity for movement and weak contact. In the Florida State League, that’s an easy trade to make because the hitting environment is so bad, but Woodford showed decent strikeout ability in Peoria (17.9 K%).

His best offspeed pitch is his changeup, so his two primary pitches move arm side. His slider, which is still a work in progress, needs to develop in order to use both sides of the plate effectively. Without a reliable breaking ball, it’s hard to imagine success at the upper levels of the minors (let alone the majors). The good news is, at just 21 years old, he has time to develop that slider and replace the traded Zac Gallen in the organization’s starting pitcher depth chart.

Thanks for reading! As always thanks to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs for their statistics databases. Be sure to check out Kyle’s post tomorrow at Birds On The Black, and listen to Prospect To Be Named Later for even more minor league content.

Colin Garner
@colingarner22

Get caught up!
16. Junior Fernandez
17. Yairo Muñoz
18. Dylan Carlson
19. Max Schrock

20. Tommy Edman
21. Edmundo Sosa

22. Johan Oviedo 
23. Evan Mendoza
24. Patrick Wisdom
25. Sam Tewes
26. Wadye Ynfante
27. Matt Pearce
28. Alvaro Seijas
29. Andy Young
30. Stefan Trosclair

Colin Garner
Colin is a catcher at Drury University who's a big fan of pitch calling, bullpenning, and Game of Thrones. Gets very frustrated with nonsense from people around him while attending games.
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