Wood launches his first two Triple-A home runs

April 12th, 2024

Truth be told, would much rather go yard twice than hit for the cycle.

So everything worked out just fine for MLB's No. 14 overall prospect on Thursday in the end.

Wood teed off on his first two long balls of the year, racking up season highs with four hits and four runs scored, as Triple-A Rochester topped host Buffalo, 6-3, in eight innings at Sahlen Field.

“I’d prefer the two homers over the cycle,” he said.

The second multihomer outing of his career might not have been on the second-ranked Nationals prospect's mind after his first at-bat of the game, though. Facing MLB’s top lefty pitching prospect Ricky Tiedemann, Wood fanned on four pitches.

“I was feeling kind of lost off Tiedemann,” he said. “So I asked a teammate what he was looking for and I was able to take that with me up to the plate [in my next at-bat].”

That teammate was veteran third baseman Jake Alu, who scorched a fly ball to the center-field warning track in his first at-bat.

“He told me, ‘Just gear up for the heater and when you’re looking for 96 [mph], you’ll see the slider.’” Wood said. “I think I was kind of in between in my first at-bat. I fouled off a heater and I was really late, then I chased a couple sliders. This kind of got me locked in on one pitch and I was able to identify the slider as something different out of the hand.”

That change in approach meant everything. In Wood's next at-bat, he drilled an 81.9 mph slider from Tiedemann over the right-field wall.

Wood stuck with that process in his next two at-bats. In the fifth, he poked a single the opposite way, and in the sixth, he scorched a double into the left-center gap. Both knocks were off fastballs and eclipsed 105 mph exit velocities.

“I’m always asking, especially left-handed hitters,” Wood said. “A lot of times if I’ve never seen a guy, just to get an idea of how stuff is moving, what’s he throwing.”

So after watching two sliders from Bisons righty reliever Hagen Danner in his fifth at-bat of the game. Wood got a 1-1 fastball and lofted it over the left-field wall. The wallop traveled 420 feet and left the bat at 108.8 mph.

“I knew I got it pretty good, I just didn’t know how [the ball] was traveling,” said 21-year-old, who crushed a career-high 26 homers in 2023.

Listed at 6-foot-7, 234 pounds, Wood touts a 70-grade power tool and 60-grade run tool. Thursday's outing, his first multihomer game since April 8, 2021 raised his season slash line to .441/.558/.794. The performance was just his second multihomer game as a pro, with the first coming on April 8, 2022 for Single-A Lake Elsinore.

Wood’s early 2024 success follows a 22-game Spring Training stint in which he slugged four homers and posted a 1.214 OPS for the the Major League club.

“Obviously, at the big league level, it’s a lot of talent, but I think I got the talent to be at that level,” Wood said. “It’s just a matter of being able to be consistent and execute.”