The Atlanta Braves have done a very decent job at finding big-time arm talent from small schools in the later rounds of the draft. Case in point: you wouldn’t have thought that Dyersburg Community College was going to have a guy that would end up threatening triple digits on radar guns, but that is what the Braves got when they selected William Woods in the 23rd round of the 2018 draft.
Preseason Report Card
We did not have William ranked amongst our top 30 preseason Braves prospects for 2022, although we did have him amongst our honorable mentions. It is hard not to love that fastball of his, but pitchers (and especially relievers) carry so much risk with them. He also only threw 10 2⁄3 innings in 2021 because of injuries, which had us spooked. Love the arm, but we couldn’t pull the trigger on including him.
What we saw in 2022
Woods started the season with some roster shuffling between Mississippi and Gwinnett although he spent the bulk of the season with Gwinnett. He had already been added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft and when the Braves needed a bullpen arm, he had been pitching well enough to get called up to the big leagues on April 26th. Woods only threw a pair of innings in the big leagues in 2022, but both of his appearances were scoreless ones. Overall, he struggled with his command and to limit damage as he posted a 6.04 ERA in 25.1 innings in 2022 across multiple levels of the system, including MLB.
The bigger issue than his performance was that yet again, he couldn’t stay on the field. Woods left a game in May with what looked like a foot or ankle injury, although he walked off the field on his own. He wasn’t activated from the Injured List until the end of July. We think there may have been multiple issues plaguing him over the course of the summer, although we haven’t been able to confirm that.
Woods has all of the talent to be a big time reliever assuming he can both stay healthy and throw strikes; his fastball is that big of a weapon out of the bullpen. Unfortunately, he will not be attempting that with the Braves. Atlanta needed a 40-man spot and DFAed Woods to make room earlier this offseason. Woods did not make it through waivers as the Mets claimed him on waivers, which ended Woods’ time with the Braves organization.