|Prospect or suspect?
With their offense ranked 12th or 13th among the league's 14 teams in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and runs, the Angels have decided to call up Brandon Wood from Triple-A.
Wood emerged as a top prospect in 2005 by blasting 43 homers and 51 doubles at Single-A in the hitter-friendly California League. He moved up to Double-A in 2006 and saw his OPS drop 140 points to a still-strong .276/.355/.552, but then lost another 70 points of OPS at Triple-A in 2007. He bounced back while repeating Triple-A last season, hitting .296/.376/.595 with 31 homers while cutting his sky-high strikeout rate.
Of course, he still whiffed 104 times in 448 plate appearances while drawing only 45 walks, and Wood has also created plenty of doubters by hitting .191 with a ghastly 55/4 K/BB ratio in various stints with the Angels. At this point his upside looks more like a solid, Joe Crede-style third baseman than the MVP-caliber shortstop Angels fans were hoping for back in 2005, although he's still just 24 years old.
Wood's minor-league resume is somewhat difficult to evaluate because he's played in extremely good environments for posting big numbers offensively. In putting those numbers into context, Baseball Prospectus projects him to bat just .228/.295/.420 this season, Baseball Think Factory pegs him at .229/.283/.393, and Rotoworld has him at .243/.294/.420. Crede is a career .256/.305/.446 hitter.
Basically he has very good power, but figures to struggle making consistent contact while posting poor batting averages and on-base percentages. It remains to be seen how often Wood will actually play this time around and where he'll be used defensively, but he was 9-for-26 (.346) with four homers in seven games at Triple-A and the Angels' lineup has struggled enough that they don't have much to lose by giving him a shot.