Fredi finally gets the pitcher who became known as “Robert” Wood
Before losing Eric O’Flaherty to a season-ending elbow surgery, Fredi Gonzalez was already pestering the Braves front office about the possibility of bringing Alex Wood to the Majors. This was just another example of what a manager does after he gets his first look at some hot shot prospect for the first time during Spring Training.
General manager Frank Wren and assistant GM Bruce Manno repeatedly told Gonzalez to be patient while Wood continued his development as a starting pitcher with Double-A Mississippi. This was just another example of what a front office does in the best interest of a young prospect’s future.
After Gonzalez’s questions about “Alex Wood” started to near the pestering stage, the Braves front office began referring to the left-handed pitcher as “Robert Wood” — his real name is Robert Alexander Wood — in the reports provided to the Major League coaching staff.
It did not take Gonzalez long to figure out this humorous response made by the front office. While the first name might have been altered, the numbers and words attached provided an accurate description of the young pitcher he was hoping to add to his bullpen.
When it was learned O’Flaherty would need to undergo Tommy John surgery, Wren indicated Wood would not be rushed to Atlanta to fix the bullpen. Instead the plan would be to allow the young southpaw to continue developing as a starting pitcher in Double-A Mississippi’s rotation.
It seemed to be the right thing to do. It would also be a challenge to stick with this plan while crossing fingers and stressing through late-inning situations that O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Jordan Walden were not available to handle.
Incredibly, the undermanned and injury-depleted bullpen has cost the Braves just one of the past 11 games. But things could have been much different if Evan Gattis, Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman not provided some clutch hits that calmed the enhanced stress Gonzalez has been feeling during the late innings the past couple of weeks.
When a comebacker off his left calf limited Kris Medlen to just two innings in last night’s loss to the Blue Jays, the Braves were forced to tax their undermanned bullpen. This led to a postgame meeting, which in turn led to the revelation that Robert Alexander Wood will be in Atlanta’s bullpen tonight.
By now, most of you have likely heard about Wood’s unorthodox delivery which leads opposing batters to see a whole lot of knees and elbows while attempting to pick up the southpaw’s mid-90s fastball that has impressive sink.
Wood has gone 4-2 with a 1.26 ERA in 10 starts with Double-A Mississippi this year. The 22-year-old left-hander has recorded 57 strikeouts and issued 15 walks in 57 innings. He has limited opponents to a .195 batting average and produce a 1.63 groundball-to-flyball ratio.
Not bad for a guy who was concluding his successful collegiate career at the University of Georgia around this time last year.