Georgia's Wood gets to don Braves cap
Growing up with split allegiance, pitcher drafted by Atlanta
ATLANTA -- Alex Wood grew up in Charlotte, N.C., comfortably within Braves territory. And when he was growing up, the Braves were his second-favorite team.
His favorite team, however, was the Mets. Alex's father, Richard, is originally from New York and grew up a Mets fan, passing the allegiance on to his son.
Wood remembers going to Braves-Mets games at Turner Field and putting his split fanhood on display.
"I would always wear a Mets hat and a Braves shirt," he said. Now, when Wood goes to Turner Field, he will just be wearing Atlanta apparel. The Braves made the Georgia left-hander their second-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday. Wood said Wednesday he has an agreement with the Braves and will officially sign a contract soon.
When Wood signs, he will forgo his final two seasons of eligibility at Georgia, where he was the Bulldogs' ace this season. He went 7-3 with a 2.73 ERA, striking out 100 batters in 102 1/3 innings.
"I've accomplished most everything I set out to," he said. "I'm pretty proud of how I did this year."
Wood said he hoped to be picked Monday night, when the first 60 picks of the Draft were made. After the first night, Wood said the Braves called and told him they were interested in taking him with their second-round pick, No. 85 overall.
When the Draft resumed Tuesday afternoon, Wood was watching with his family and a few close friends at his home in Charlotte. The Braves did indeed call his name in the second round, giving him the opportunity to play for the organization that has grown on him since he arrived at Georgia as a college freshman.
"Since I've been in Georgia, they've taken over as one of my favorite teams," he said. "All my closest friends and best friends are such huge Braves fans."
The Braves, meanwhile, were happy to get a hard-throwing college left-hander.
"Quite honestly, we were a little surprised he was still there and very happy to be able to get him," scouting director Tony DeMacio said.
DeMacio's surprise is understandable, given the velocity Wood is able to generate as a left-hander. His fastball regularly reaches the mid-90s, and he also throws an advanced changeup, which Wood said is his favorite pitch. His slider, however, he called "inconsistent."
While Wood is able to generate good velocity, his delivery is unorthodox. After landing on his right leg, he takes a little hop backwards. But it doesn't affect his command, as evidenced by just 21 walks this year, and DeMacio said the Braves weren't concerned by it.
"Doesn't affect us one bit," he said. "He throws strikes."
Wood said he didn't even know his delivery included the hop until he watched it on video for the first time. He said he thinks it has contributed to his success.
"It's part of what makes me good," Wood said. "I think it adds to my deception."
Though he isn't yet sure where the Braves will send him, Wood is eager to sign and see how he does against professional hitters.
"I'm going to speak to my advisor and the Braves' staff later [Wednesday], and hopefully I'll start to get an idea for what's going on," he said. "I'm ready to go out wherever they send me."
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.