COTUIT ---- Austin Wood (St. Petersburg) is enjoying the kind of season that most pitchers dream about in the Cape League. He currently sports the second-lowest ERA in the league at 0.36, with only Anthony Ranaudo (LSU), the 39th overall pick of the Red Sox in the MLB draft, ahead of him.
Wood picked up his second win of the season in his last outing, throwing 6.2 scoreless innings against the league-leading Brewster Whitecaps.
“It was certainly his best performance yet,” assistant coach Kevin Kime said. “He’s one of a few guys in this league who have been consistently in the upper 90s in their last couple starts. He’s a pretty special talent and he keeps getting better every opportunity he gets out there.”
Wood was throwing his fastball between 95 and 97 mph in the July 11th home appearance against Brewster, topping out at 98.
“He’s a real good competitor,” Cotuit general manager Bruce Murphy said. “He gets out there, he gets focused, he throws hard, and his fastball has been very lively.”
Unfortunately, Wood’s speed and power has led to high pitch counts and more walks than he’d prefer. He has fanned 21, while walking 11. But lately, he has managed to stay ahead of hitters.
“He’s a power pitcher, so he does work behind hitters,” Kime said. “We’re trying to get his pitch count down early in a game so he can last into the later innings and we can see that 95-97 (fastball) somewhere in the sixth, seventh and eighth. His strikeout ratio is O.K. right now. I think you’ll see more strikeouts in the future from him.”
Wood has limited opponents to a .108 batting average in 25 innings. In five games --- four starts ----- he’s allowed a mere three runs, only one earned. His effectiveness stems from his fastball-changeup combination, with a few breaking balls thrown into the mix.
“He’s thrown his breaking ball once in a while as an out pitch,” Kime said. “But he’s got a good change of velocity going from 95 and 97 to about a 10 mph difference in his changeup. He’s seen a lot of success with that, a lot of push-pull fastball changeup stuff.”