Blake Daniel Wood was brought into this world on August 8, 1985. A native of Atlanta, GA, he spent his college years playing for his hometown Georgia Tech. The right-hander was the ace of the staff for the Yellowjackets, leading them to the College World Series in 2006. This performance was good enough for him to be drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the third round of the 2006 amateur draft.
After bouncing around the minor leagues for a few years, Blake made his major league debut for the Royals on May 12, 2010, pitching a scoreless inning against the Cleveland Indians. He would end up spending the rest of the season with the Royals, amassing a 5.07 ERA in 49.2 innings of relief. After briefly starting the season in AAA-Omaha, he'd return to the Royals to pitch 69.2 innings in 2011. His performance improved that season, as his ERA dropped to 3.75 and his K/9 jumped from 5.6 to 8.0. Unfortunately, his 2012 season ended before it began, as he tore his UCL and underwent Tommy John surgery.
Prior to the 2013 season, he was selected off waivers by the Cleveland Indians. He would spend parts of the 2013 and 2014 seasons in Cleveland, but only pitched a combined 7.2 innings for the Indians in those two seasons. He most recently spent the 2015 season in the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization, pitching the entire year in AAA-Indianapolis.
Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 3rd round of the 2006 amateur draft.
Signed June 22, 2006. (All Transactions)
Debut: May 12, 2010 (Age 24.277, 17,340th in MLB history) vs. CLE 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 SO, 0 BB, 0 ER
Rookie Status: Exceeded rookie limits during 2010 season [*]
Teams (by GP): Royals/Indians 2010-2014
November 20, 2015: Signed as a Free Agent with the Cincinnati Reds.
The scouting report is about what you'd expect for a righty power arm. He has a fastball that sits in the 94-97 mph range, but has been clocked as high as 100 mph throughout his career. His secondary pitches include a slider that he mainly uses to get right-handed hitters out and a splitter (or a change -up according to the graph below) that he primarily uses on lefties. Since I couldn't find any Blake Wood gifs, here's a graph of his pitch usage throughout his career:
Pitch F/X Pitcher Profile:
Throughout his career, Blake Wood's biggest issue has been his control. He showed some improvement in 2015, walking 25 batters in 58.2 IP (3.8 per 9 IP), but it still is a little high. He's never had an issue with striking batters out, as you'd expect for a power arm. Since his return from Tommy John surgery, he has been striking out batters to the tune of almost 11 per 9 innings. Even at 30 years old, his lively arm is promising, and in a lost season it makes sense to take a gamble on a low-risk/high-reward pitcher like Blake. Power pitchers are becoming more common, but if he can keep up that strikeout rate he can provide some value from the bullpen this season.
The 2016 bullpen is wide open. With the departures of Aroldis Chapman, Burke Badenhop, and Manny Parra, it leaves the door open for guys like Blake to become contributors. Hopefully he can take advantage of this opportunity to not only impact the Reds, but to also rejuvenate his career.