Thursday, November 18, 2021
The offseason is here and it’s a perfect time to recap the 2021 season of each of the Braves top 30 prospects. In this series, I’ll discuss each player’s performance from this past year, as well as what’s needed for them to continue to rise in the organization. All rankings are derived from my most-recent 2021 Braves Top 30 Prospect List, which came out this past August. Following this series, a fresh top 30 will be constructed, primarily based on the notes I’ll provide in this column.
- Jefrey Ramos, OF (link)
- Brandol Mezquita, OF (link)
- Cody Milligan, 2B (link)
- Drew Lugbauer, 1B/DH (link)
- Tanner Gordon, RHP (link)
- Greyson Jenista, OF/1B (link)
#24. William Woods, RHP
2021 stats (Rk / A+): 10.2 IP, 4.22 ERA, 8 K, 4 BB, 3 HR
Entering 2021, the hype surrounding Woods was crazy. Following a strong 2019 campaign with then-Single-A Rome as a 20-year-old, many in Braves Country believed this was perhaps the biggest mover in the organization. However, due to an undisclosed injury, Woods didn’t make his debut this past season until Aug. 19 with the FCL team, and it was Aug. 26 until he reached High-A Rome. His 2021 campaign had essentially been wasted. But due to his track record, I kept him right where he was in my prospect rankings, just inside the top 25.
Now that it appears Woods is healthy; the excitement should return. An entire year off may have even helped the right-handed pitcher, and many of the major prospect outlets still believe he’s a top-20 prospect in the Braves organization, thanks to a dominant upper-90s MPH fastball and wicked upper-80s slider.
Until he develops a viable third pitch, there’s still a ton of reliever risk with Woods, although that could perhaps be a good thing in terms of his ETA to the majors. I think the Braves should move him up to Double-A to start 2022, and stick him in the M-Braves bullpen, where he can continue to develop as a high-leverage weapon. Atlanta can always use up-and-coming relief options, and though the organization may continue to give him a look as a starter, I believe ultimately his best shot at contributing in the majors is as a reliever.
Per reports, Woods is still working on a changeup (that third pitch), so maybe his future role is dependent on how well he can throw his offspeed. Plus, set to turn 23 in late December, the kid is still plenty young enough to be patient with. Regardless, though, 2022 could be a big year for Woods as it could help determine which route is best for him on the mound. I still think he could be a damn good late-innings reliever, but we’ll see how the Braves use him. He has mainly started in the Arizona Fall League this year, making four starts and one relief appearance while sporting a 4.24 ERA. This past week in the AFL, Woods made a start and went four innings of two-hit ball to go with a walk and seven strikeouts.