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Shortstop Smackdown: Drew vs. Wood

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Shortstop Smackdown: Stephen Drew vs. Brandon Wood

I start this piece with merely a title: "Shortstop Smackdown." The purpose here is to compare and contrast Stephen Drew and Brandon Wood, two outstanding shortstop prospects, and try to figure out which one is the better prospect.

I'm going to break this down into categories.

BACKGROUND and INTANGIBLES
Drew: 1st round pick, 15th overall, in the 2004 draft, out of Florida State. Would have gone in the first five picks were it not for his bonus demands. Renowned in college ball as a complete player, with power, speed, and strong defensive potential. Like the other Drew brothers, he also picked up a reputation for arrogance and "not always playing hard," which can mean a lot of things. Scouts continue to hint that his effort on defense is questionable, but he puts plenty of effort into at his hitting.
Wood: 1st round pick, 23rd overall, in the 2003 draft, out of high school in Arizona. His draft position was in line with expectations and his bonus demands were reasonable. Renowned in high school for an excellent glove at shortstop. Had a good field/no hit reputation until his senior year, when he suddenly started hitting for power. Work ethic, intelligence, and approach to the game are uniformly praised across the board. Appeared to lack confidence during second half struggles in 2004, but this was not a problem in '05.
Advantage: Slight advantage for Wood. Drew had a higher profile as an amateur, but Wood has a slightly better reputation for work ethic.

PHYSICALITY and TOOLS
Drew: 6-1, 195 pounds, a left-handed hitter. His weakest tool is his throwing arm, though it is sufficient for shortstop. His other tools are all considered above-average or better, although his running speed was less than anticipated this year, perhaps due to a sore hamstring. He has been vulnerable to nagging injuries in the past.
Wood: 6-3, 200 pounds, a right-handed hitter. Wood has grown two inches and gained 20 pounds in the last two years. His physical tools are all average or better. His running speed and defensive range are a bit less than a healthy Drew, but Wood has a stronger throwing arm. Although he has not had as many injuries as Drew, he has shown a tendency to wear down physically as the season progresses, though this was not as big a problem in '05 as in '04. Some worry that he may outgrow shortstop and have to move to third base.
Advantage: This looks very close to even to me. Wood's advantages in throwing arm and size are balanced by Drew's advantage in range and speed.

PERFORMANCE
Drew: Drew hit .389/.486/.738 in 149 at-bats in the California League, posting an OPS an incredible 51 percent better than league average. His BB/K/AB ratio was excellent. However, he did not hit particularly well after a promotion to Double-A, hitting just .218/.301/.386 in 27 games for Tennessee. He is currently 14-for-28 (.500) with four homers in seven games in the Arizona Fall League.
Wood: Wood hit .321/.383/.672 in 536 at-bats in the California League, posting a +30 percent OPS compared to league. That's not as good as what Drew did, but Wood played the whole season at one level. He knocked 101 extra-base hits. Wood went 6-for-19 (.316) in a late trial in Triple-A, and is currently 14-for-37 with nine homers in the Arizona Fall League.
Advantage: Hard to say. Drew has better strike zone judgment, but Wood was younger than Drew and dominated the same level for an entire season, while Drew struggled after being promoted to Double-A. I think it's even when everything is considered.

PROJECTION
Drew: Given a normal growth curve from age 22, Drew should be an excellent player, capable of hitting .290+ with a high on-base percentage and more power than most middle infielders.
Wood: Given a normal growth curve from age 20, Wood should be an excellent player, capable of hitting .290+. His OBP may not be as impressive as Drew's, but he should develop more power.
Advantage: Wood has the advantage here due to age, being two years younger than Drew.

OVERALL
As I see it, Wood has better intangibles and better physical projection. They are even in physicality, tools, defense, and performance. Overall I rate Wood as a slightly better prospect, keeping in mind that they are both Grade A guys.
Your mileage may differ.

I am putting a poll question in the comments thread.

Poll

Who Will Have A Better Career?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Stephen Drew
    (68 votes)
  • 64%
    Brandon Wood
    (126 votes)
194 votes total Vote Now