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What’s Gotten into Brandon Woodruff?

Life’s funny, isn’t? Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out – like, say, bypassing a rumored $400,000 signing bonus as a fifth rounder coming out of high school – the curveballs start getting chucked your way. You know, like Tommy John surgery halfway through your sophomore season at Mississippi State, an injury that ultimately capped a three-year run at just about 90 innings.

Let’s just say those 90 or so innings with the Bulldogs were a bit…lackluster.

In 34 games, 18 of which were starts, the sturdily-built right-hander averaged a shade over eight punch outs per nine innings and walk rate north of 5.00.

And, yet, here’s what I wrote about the intriguing underdog prior to the 2014 draft:

“Very similar to that of former Oklahoma State right-hander Jason Hursh, who was nabbed by the Braves in the first round last season despite missing significant time due to Tommy John surgery. Woodruff is another lively armed pitcher that could find his name being called somewhere between rounds 2 and 3.

He’s going to have to be brought up to speed slowly, but there’s some big league rotation potential here. The control will eventually bounce back after this season; granted, it couldn’t get much worse. And in limited time he’s shown a pretty good ability to miss bats.

Complete wild card, though. If everything breaks right, he – maybe – could develop into a #3/#4-type arm. But if his control/command continues to flounder in the below-average range than he’s likely looking at an eighth inning role. Again, health is going to be a concern moving forward.”

I also had Woodruff ranked above the likes of Spencer Turnbull, J.D. Davis, Jace Fry, Aaron Brown, Matt Chapman, etc…

Well, I’d like to welcome back Brandon Woodruff, who’s been an absolute breath of fresh air – or perhaps it’s been the constant breeze left by opposing hitters – as he’s split his 2016 season between the Florida State and Southern Leagues.

In 106.0 combined innings, Woodruff has fanned more than 27% and walked just under 7.0% of the total hitters he’s faced. The best part? He hasn’t slowed since his promotion to Class AA in mid-May. Consider the following:

Level

IP

K%

BB%

FIP

A+

44.1

27.84%

5.68%

2.46

AA

61.2

26.46%

7.78%

2.91

Woodruff is already approaching his career high in innings – set last season, by the way – so it wouldn’t be surprising to see some fatigue set in down the stretch. If he continues to take some strides forward it wouldn’t be surprising to see him latch onto a #2/#3-type role in the Brewers’ rotation within in the next 12 to 14 months.

Finally, let’s chew on some of his stats this year. Among all MiLB with at least 100+ innings thus far, Woodruff ranks:

Eighth in strikeout rate (9.93 K/9)

Sixth in strikeout percentage (27.0%)

Tied for the seventh best strikeout-to-walk percentage (20.1%)

Here’s a list of 23-year-old Class AA hurlers to fan at least 26% and walk fewer than 8% with 60 innings and 10 starts under their belt since 2006: Sean Nolin, Cory Mazzoni, Brad Peacock, Eric Surkamp, Dan Straily. 10-to-1 odds that Woodruff outpitches all of them.



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.


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