After losing the battle for the Cincinnati Reds 5th starter job with Mike Leake, Travis Wood just put his head down, went back to the minors, and continued to build on his strong 2009 with another more than solid season. After 98 strong IP at AAA Louisville, the Reds are bringing Wood up to make his Major League debut tomorrow against the Cubs.
Wood's minor league numbers this year contain many of the positive markers I like to see from a young pitcher. His K/9 is almost 9.0, his walks are under 3.0, and he's allowed less than a HR per nine IP. That HR rate is still a little high, and I could see Wood struggling somewhat with the long ball out of the gate. However, I don't see it as a big problem.
Wood is a smallish lefty (5-11, 165) who doesn't throw hard but knows how to pitch. His fastball sits in the 88-91 MPH range but his bread-and-butter is a nasty change that Wood isn't afraid to throw at any point in the count. Entering this year, the scouting reports on his curve were mixed and some scouts thought that refinement of this pitch would be the difference between Wood having a sustainable MLB career or not. I haven't seen enough data on Wood to know if this is something that he's worked out or not.
Wood is definitely someone who I think is worth a FAAB throw. I can see him taking his lumps in the Majors, but I can also see him providing a something between a 3.50 and a 4.00 ERA if he sticks. He's murder on LHB, and while he won't be as much of a shutdown lefty in the bigs, it's not hard to imagine him giving lefties fits in the Majors as well, at least initially.