Florida’s IMG Academy is one of the nation’s premier preparatory academies. It has produced multiple players including 2021 draft prospect James Wood. The big outfielder is just the next enticing youngster from a school that has given us Blaze Alexander and Rece Hinds in recent drafts. He is more volatile as a high schooler, but there is a lot to love about the Maryland native as the draft approaches.
James Wood 2021 MLB Draft Profile
Wood is a big 6’6″, 230-pound left-handed outfielder currently ranked 29th on MLB’s v big board. He is also 21st on Baseball America’s after dropping down the rankings in recent weeks. Stats from that level aren’t widely available, but various reports point towards a player who has done as much for himself as any high school player in the country. The tools are flashy enough that Wood should be a strong mid-to-late first round pick despite a lack of exposure relative to other high schoolers and college players. He is committed to Mississippi State, but the right offer will certainly tempt him to join the professional ranks early.
MLB.com’s current rankings reflect a player with high power, but average or below in many other regards. His power is a 55/80, but a 45/80 hit tool counteracts that to an extent. The good thing is that he has at least a 50 for running, fielding, and especially throwing. It’s obviously not a five-tool profile, but it seems perfect for the modern game as it is currently constructed. Wood’s ceiling looks like that of a player with both power and speed who can handle the corner outfield adequately. He may even be able to handle centerfield if his range doesn’t diminish with age.
Perhaps the biggest thing that scouting reports highlight is that while power exists, there is a long way to go for it to be fully realized. That is because, like some players, Wood has not yet managed to fully work his lower body into his swing motion. That means the majority of his power comes from his hands and wrists. Leveraging his long lower body will help unlock some of that pop potential over the long term. The good thing is that he won’t turn 19 until September. That means plenty of time left for development either in college of the minors.
12 outfielders listed at 6’6″ have made the major leagues in the expansion era. The most notable current example of such a player is Giancarlo Stanton off the New York Yankees, but he is a physical aberration even among athlete physiques. A more reasonable starting point might be Corey Hart. Hart played for 11 seasons, mostly with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Bowling Green, KY native hit .271/329/478 with 162 home runs and 14.4 WAR is just over 4100 plate appearances. He was a league average hitter or better in six of his 11 seasons and even received an MVP vote or two in 2010. Wood will go much earlier than Hart did in the 11th round of the 2000 Amateur Draft, but Hart was a very solid option as a later high school selection. There are worse outcomes than almost 15 career WAR.
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