Wood making case for Nats debut with jaw-dropping numbers

May 20th, 2024

WASHINGTON -- is mashing home runs and posting jaw-dropping numbers in Triple-A. The Nationals offense is struggling. The question buzzing around is, when will the No. 5 overall prospect make his Major League debut?

“Soon,” manager Dave Martinez said pregame on Monday. “He’s got to develop a little bit. He’s young, he’s 21 years old. When he’s here, we want him to be here to stay. He’s going to get here."

Wood, who was acquired in 2022 from the Padres in the Juan Soto blockbuster, is slashing .353/.457/.564 with a 1.021 OPS, seven home runs, 27 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in his first 41 games with Triple-A Rochester.

The agile 6-foot-7, lefty-hitting outfielder was recognized as International League Player of the Week for May 6-12. During that stretch, he belted five homers, drove in 12 runs and hit .455.

"I think the big thing was just trying to be consistent," Wood said on MLB Network’s “Off Base” last week. "I think last year I had some good stretches and I had some not so good stretches, so I think the main goal this year was to get myself a plan so I could sustain that success for as long as possible."

As Wood plays highlight-reel baseball in his first season in Triple-A, the Nationals have scored the second-fewest runs in the NL this season. They were shut out in consecutive games last week against the White Sox and snapped a week-long stretch without a home run on Sunday.

The Nationals would have to make adjustments in the outfield, which currently includes Jesse Winker (left), Jacob Young (center), Eddie Rosario (right/left) and Victor Robles (right/center). Right fielder Lane Thomas began a rehab assignment on Monday, and he is nearing his return from a left MCL strain.

Robles, who missed 29 games this season because of a left hamstring strain, is hitting 2-for-20 with notable miscues in his return.

“He’s doing well, but there is a plan,” Martinez said of Wood on May 8. “We’re going to do everything we can to stick to that plan; we really are. He needs to get a bunch of at-bats, he needs to learn some different things.

“We want him to get better against left-handed pitching, we want him to understand the baserunning stuff, all that stuff. … I don’t want to bring him up here and platoon him, that’s for sure. He needs to play every day. But he’s doing well, and this is part of the process.”

With each swing of the bat, the anticipation of Wood’s debut increases.

“I don’t want to be a fan, but if I was a fan, I can’t wait until he comes up here, too,” Martinez said recently. “It’s going to be fun. But we’ve got to be smart about it.”