Name: Coty Woods
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: March 14, 1988
Acquired: 2012 Rule 5 Draft, Major League Phase
The Texas Rangers added a potential 2013 bullpen piece in this offseason's Rule 5 Draft, selecting right-hander Coty Woods from the Colorado Rockies with the 13th pick.
Woods will get a chance to crack the big league club this spring. As is the case with any Major League phase Rule 5 pick, the 24-year-old will not only have to make the team out of camp, but he'll also have to spend the entire season in the majors with Texas; he can't be optioned to Triple-A with the Rangers in 2013.
If Woods isn't on the opening-day squad, the Rangers will have to offer him back to the Rockies. Of course, Texas could always work out a trade with Colorado, which would enable the Rangers to take full control of Woods and option him to the minor leagues.
A 33rd-round pick out of Middle Tennessee State in 2009, Woods was a sidearming college reliever who gradually worked his way up the Rockies' minor league ranks.
Woods began his pro career in the rookie Pioneer League in '09 before moving on to Single-A Asheville in 2010 and High-A Modesto the following year. He split last season between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Colorado Springs.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound hurler broke out as an intriguing relief prospect with Modesto in 2011, when he posted a 2.19 ERA in 49 appearances. That season, he yielded just 61 hits in 78 innings, walking 33 and striking out 88. Using his deceptive sidearm delivery, Woods was plenty tough on righties in 2011––they hit him at just a .176 clip with a five percent walk rate and 33 percent strikeout rate. However, lefties hit .292 against him with more walks (19 percent) than strikeouts (17 percent).
The Tennessee native showed significant improvement with Double-A Tulsa last season, having more success against left-handed hitters than righties while yielding just three earned runs in 35.2 Texas League innings (0.76 ERA).
Although Woods scuffled after a late-season promotion to hitter-friendly Colorado Springs, he righted the ship with a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League. The 24-year-old appeared in 10 Fall League games and permitted four runs on seven hits in 11.1 innings, walking four and fanning nine. He also induced nearly 2.6 groundouts per airout in the short sample.
Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup.
Fastball: Woods attacks hitters from a low arm slot that's perhaps not straight sidearm, but it's close enough. Either way, his delivery provides deception that enables his fastball to play up a bit, and he couples that deception with pretty good velocity for a sidearmer.
The right-hander's fastball sits between 89-92 mph, reaching up to 93 on occasion during his stint in the Arizona Fall League. The fastball has some sink and armside run, which has led to decent ground-ball rates through his minor league career. Even with the velocity and movement, Woods' fastball command will be a key factor in whether he's able to achieve major league success; he commanded his fastball well with Tulsa but struggled after his promotion to Triple-A.
Other Pitches: Neither of Woods' secondary offerings are wipeout pitches; however, like his fastball, the deception from his sidearm delivery enables his sweeping slider to play up a tick. Woods' slider works in the upper-70s, low-80s with good horizontal action and some tilt. When he's able to command the sinker/slider mix down in the zone, he's extremely tough on fellow right-handed hitters. His iffy changeup led to struggles against lefties in 2011, but it became a more reliable offering last summer and could become an average third pitch to combat southpaw hitters.
Projection: The 24-year-old isn't quite the typical sidearming reliever, but his ceiling and projection is about the same. If he commands his arsenal and shows some consistency with his secondary stuff, Woods has a chance to carve out a career in middle relief. While he provides a little more fastball punch (velocity) than your typical sidearmer, he hasn't quite shown the pinpoint command that many feature. The command has flashed though, and that's a big part of why the Rangers took a chance on him in this offseason's Rule 5 Draft. The ultimate quality of his changeup will also play a role in determining whether he's more of a right-on-right specialist or a middle reliever capable of facing all hitters.
2013 Outlook: Woods will enter spring training as part of an open audition at the front end of the Rangers' bullpen. The club has spent the offseason retooling its bullpen, but Texas will begin camp with just three right-handed relievers––Joe Nathan, Josh Lindblom, and Jason Frasor––as ‘locks' for opening-day spots. The righty middle relief jobs are up for grabs between Woods, Tanner Scheppers, Wilmer Font, and a slew of non-roster invitees.
As mentioned, if Woods doesn't crack the opening-day roster, one of two scenarios will play out: the Rangers will offer Woods back to the Rockies for $25,000, or the club will work out a trade with Colorado and option him to the minor leagues. Given the Rangers' current lack of proven bullpen depth, the organization may prefer to keep him around regardless––if he impresses in spring training.
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