Consistency key for Wood at first Nats camp

Nats taking long spring look at 'really good' No. 1 prospect

March 9th, 2023

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Manager Dave Martinez penciled 's name into the starting lineup on Thursday ahead of the Nationals' exhibition game against Team Israel. While it remains to be seen how long it will be before the Nats’ No. 1 prospect (per MLB Pipeline) is in the lineup of his first Major League game, Martinez is getting an early glimpse into the potential of the 20-year-old outfielder during Spring Training action. 

“He's one of our future stars,” said Martinez. “He’s going to play here for a long time. I like just getting him out there.”

A headliner of the Juan Soto megatrade with the Padres last August, Wood is in his first camp with the Nationals. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound lefty hitter arrived in West Palm Beach surrounded by intrigue and excitement after appearing in 21 games for Single-A Fredericksburg and earning Washington’s co-Minor League Hitter of the Year award.

Wood, who did not turn 20 until last September, was a second-round pick out of IMG Academy, selected by the Padres in the 2021 MLB Draft. After his first full season in pro ball, he was ranked by MLB Pipeline as baseball’s No. 17 overall prospect and the No. 5 outfield prospect.

“I've been watching him, and I've been watching how he handles himself,” Martinez said. “He's really good. He's really mature for a young kid. He understands the strike zone pretty good. He doesn't necessarily chase, which definitely helps him stand out.”

Thursday marked Wood’s second big league game and first start of camp. He got the nod in place of a sidelined Victor Robles, who sustained a left knee contusion running into the center-field wall against the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium on Wednesday.

As Wood gains real-time experience, Martinez will look for the power hitter to work on his timing, staying ready for a fastball and attacking the pitches he should hit.

“For me, it's just about consistency with him, really still trying to understand who he is and what he can be as a player, honing in on just a lot of different skills,” he said. “The kid can run, and I've seen that already.”

When Wood gets the call -- he is projected by MLB Pipeline to make his big league debut in 2025 -- he is highly anticipated to be a key piece of the Nationals’ next chapter. With that vision of the future, Wood is taking the steps in the “now” during Spring Training to reach that goal.

“I love how he attacks the game, I really do,” Martinez said. “For him being so young and understanding the game the way he does, it’s pretty impressive.”