Wood keeps crushing pitches, hits 2nd spring HR in 2nd game

February 25th, 2024

JUPITER, Fla. -- It’s only been two games, but Nationals outfield prospect has looked impressive in the batter’s box. During Washington’s 6-3 victory over Miami on Sunday afternoon at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, the left-handed-hitting Wood crushed his second home run in as many days.

In the fifth inning vs. the Marlins, Wood swung at a 1-2 sweeper from left-hander Devin Smeltzer, cranking the ball over the center-field wall. To make the moment sweeter, Wood’s parents were in the stands.

“I’m just trying to stay on the ball,” Wood said. “It was an awkward angle facing [Smeltzer]. He took a little bit of the first two pitches. I just happened to make an adjustment.”

Wood is ranked as the No. 14 prospect in Major League Baseball, per MLB Pipeline, and entered the spring the No. 2 prospect in Washington’s organization, behind only outfielder Dylan Crews.

Wood, who was the Nationals’ Minor League Hitter of the Year after hitting 26 home runs last season, wants to show manager Dave Martinez that he can be consistent in the batter’s box. The knock on Wood is that there is a lot of swing-and-miss in his game (173 whiffs in 473 at-bats last year), but Martinez doesn’t seem to be concerned.

“He’ll clean that up. He is doing just fine,” Martinez said. “I know a lot of guys in the big leagues that strike out, hit 40 home runs and they get paid a lot of money.”

Hitting home runs isn’t the only thing Martinez is impressed with regarding Wood.

“He does everything the right way,” the skipper said. “Even when you watch him play defense, he gets a good jump on balls, he runs the bases hard. He ran out a ground ball today. I have no complaints. I love watching him play. He is going to be special.”

Gore makes first spring start

Nationals left-hander made his first start of the spring against the Marlins, striking out four over two innings.

Gore breezed through the first inning, throwing only 10 pitches and striking out two batters. The following inning he faltered, allowing one run on two hits.

“I’m happy with what [Gore] did today,” Martinez said. “He looks really good. His breaking ball was a lot better. He threw some really good ones to left-handed hitters.”

Gore is expected to be a key member of Washington’s rotation in 2024. Last year, Gore won seven games, posting a 4.42 ERA with 151 strikeouts over 136 1/3 innings.