Angels Look For Wood To Take Command





LOS ANGELES—A word often used in describing Angels pitching prospect Austin Wood is "enigma," which isn't necessarily a bad thing. There's something intriguing, maybe even a bit mysterious, about a 6-foot-4, 225-pound righthander who can throw 97 mph but often struggles to command his blazing fastball.

It's OK to be an enigma when you're a raw, talented 22-year-old who just completed your first full professional season in low Class A. But at some point over the next few years, if Wood is going to develop into a big league pitcher, he'll need to harness control of his signature pitch and shed that label.

"He's an interesting guy with a big arm," farm director Scott Servais said. "He definitely passes the eyeball test."

Wood, a Florida native who was a sixth-round pick out of Southern California in 2011, went 5-12, 4.30 in 26 starts for Cedar Rapids last season, striking out 109 and walking 72 in 128 innings and yielding a .264 average.

Though Servais said Wood "ran out of gas" at the end of the season, the pitcher did show better command of his breaking ball—a power slider with good bite—in the second half after making some adjustments.

Wood has shown a good feel for a changeup at times but has not had much confidence in it. The lack of a reliable third pitch will likely precipitate a move to the bullpen down the road, but Wood will probably start 2013 in high Class A Inland Empire's rotation.

"He could ultimately end up in the bullpen, but to give him a chance to develop his secondary pitches, we started him," Servais said. "I wouldn't rule out him being a starter, but at his age, with his power stuff, he profiles as bullpen guy. Our philosophy is to start them as long as they can, until they can't."

Angel Food

• Former shortstop Omar Vizquel, a defensive whiz who won 11 Gold Glove awards in a 24-year career that spanned four decades, has been hired as the Angels' new roving infield instructor, replacing Dick Schofield.

• First baseman C.J. Cron, a 2011 first-round pick who had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder last fall, is on track to start the 2013 season at Double-A Arkansas, Servais said. There was some concern that Cron, who hit .293/.327/.516 with 27 homers at Inland Empire in 2012, wouldn't be ready for the season.