When the Rockies signed Brandon Wood in November, it was mostly seen as taking a chance on a talented under producer, who would at best take advantage of the hitting environment in Colorado Springs. But after a little over a week of Spring Training, Wood has a chance to be the Rockies opening day starter at third base.
It is still very early and there is still around three weeks until the regular season opens and baseball games start for real, but spring training is the time for mass speculation based on small sample sizes. Coming into today Brandon Wood is hitting .438 (7 for 16), with 4 extra base hits. Casey Blake is 0-9 with 4 strikeouts, but the biggest knock against Blake is health. He has missed the last couple spring training games with a strained neck, the same injury that ended his 2011 season, resulting in surgery in September. Blake will be 38 coming into 2012 and if he is not healthy the only reason to keep him on the roster would be if no one else steps up and proves they can play every day at third base. If Wood continues to hit well and play passable defense he would be the obvious choice to take that spot. With the rest of the lineup more of less sorted out, the third baseman would probably bat in either the seventh or eighth spot in the order, so even if the Rockies give Wood a chance and he fails, it wouldn’t totally hamstring the offense. The case for Wood gets better when you look at his potential, he is a former first round pick and at one time was considered the third best prospect in all of baseball. With Jim Tracy and Carney Lansford spending time rebuilding Woods swing after finding “an incredible hitch” in his swing causing Wood to only cover half of the plate, and getting a fresh start in a new organization, the 27 year old Wood has a much higher ceiling than any other player in contention for the starting job. If Wood proves he can be a productive major league baseball player in 2012, he could move to second base in 2013 if Marco Scutaro is not re-signed.
It would not be unprecedented for Wood to go from a failed prospect to a solid major leaguer, at the same age Jose Bautista was coming off a 15 home run season while hitting .254 for the Pirates. Jayson Werth was with the Dodgers at 26 years old and would hit 7 home runs with a .234 average. Best case scenario for Wood is that he gets the job and runs with it, and regains some of the promise he showed after hitting 43 home runs in High A ball in 2005, followed by averaging 25 home runs a season from 2006-2009. With the black hole that was third base in 2011, taking a chance on Brandon Wood doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me.