Remember Brandon Wood? Before Mike Moustakas, Wood was the top third base prospect. A power hitting prospect in the Angels system, he hit 43 home runs between two levels in 2005, catapulting himself into the top ten prospects in baseball according to Baseball America in 2006 and 2007. Although Wood struck out a lot, his power was expected to project at the major league level. If he could manage to hit in the .260 to .270 range, Wood could have been a future star.
But that is the problem with prospects – they do not always pan out. Wood, despite the high hopes that the Angels and prospect watchers had, never could turn his promise into a reality. Despite being given every opportunity to seize the Angels third base job, Wood was unable to hit whatsoever. After parts of four subpar seasons with the Angels, he was waived by the Angels and acquired by the Pirates before bouncing around the minor leagues, including a brief stop this past year with the Omaha Storm Chasers. Overall, in his time in the majors, Wood produced a .186/.225/.289 batting line, striking out 218 times in 700 at bats. That power he displayed in the minors led to all of 18 major league home runs.
Now, Brandon Wood finds himself on a minor league contract. Signed by the Padres, Wood is trying once again to resurrect his career and actually become some semblance of the player he was expected to be. If not, Wood would be just another top prospect who never became what was expected.
The pain of a top prospect not panning out is something that the Royals have felt all too frequently over the past few years. The Royals were expected to have their Big Three starters coming through the farm system, but only Danny Duffy has reached the majors. Moustakas has yet to become that power hitting third baseman, and may find himself in a platoon with Danny Valencia. Now the Royals have another crop of prospects on the verge of reaching the majors, headlined by Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura. While a lot is expected of both pitchers, there is just no way of knowing whether or not they will perform as expected, or if they will find themselves as potential AAAA players.
In a way, it is sadly ironic that Brandon Wood found his way into the Royals system, given how many of the Royals top prospects had not panned out. If nothing else, his presence in the system, albeit brief, can help serve as a warning as to other prospects that just because they are highly rated, success is not assured. Sometimes, no matter what you do, success just never comes.