Wood launches HR for first Double-A extra-base hit

June 2nd, 2023

James Wood is moving on up, and moving on up with style.

The top Nationals prospect clubbed his first Double-A home run on Thursday, his first extra-base hit since being promoted on May 28.

Wood sports 60-grade power -- tied with his speed for his highest-graded tool -- and he showed it off in the seventh frame of the Senators’ 6-5 win over Bowie. The No. 7 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline also collected a single in the ninth to finish the night with two knocks in his 12th multihit game of the season.

After striking out in his first three at-bats, the 20-year-old was hungry to avoid a golden sombrero. Wood quickly fell behind 1-2, but he took two pitches on the edge of the zone to work the count full. Baysox righty Carlos Tavera threw a fastball right down the middle, and Wood was not about to let this one go by, cranking the pitch far over the advertisements in right field at Prince George's Stadium.

Even Bowie’s announcer, Matt Sabados, was impressed by the roundtripper, remarking as Wood rounded the bases: “That’s going to be all over social media.”

It ended up being the game-winning run.

Taken in the second round of the 2021 Draft by the Padres, Wood was one of the key pieces in last year’s blockbuster Juan Soto trade, but he wasn’t quite the centerpiece. Now he’s looking like one of the most integral parts of the Nats’ future. Wood has been thriving in his new organization, rising from the No. 88 prospect at the time of the trade to a top 10 overall prospect.

The lefty slugger posted a .293/.366/.463 slash line for Single-A Fredericksburg last year, and his performance with High-A Wilmington to begin 2023 was eerily similar -- he compiled a slash line of .293/.392/.580 in 42 games before being promoted. The difference in slugging percentage can be attributed to the eight home runs he hit at High-A, compared with the two he had at Single-A, as well as legging out five triples for the Blue Rocks (he only had one in 76 games in 2022).

With nine long balls through 46 games this year, Wood needs just three more to tie the season-high mark he set last year. With his combined power and speed, the slugger could be looking at his first 20-20 season at 20 years old.