In James Wood’s first full year in the Nationals organization, he lived up to his billing as a power hitter. Yet the 21-year-old outfielder showed he still has work to do to become a consistent hitter.
Wood was a key piece in the 2022 deadline deal that sent Juan Soto to the Padres. He hit a combined .262/.353/.520 with 26 home runs and 91 RBIs in 129 games between High-A Wilmington and Double-A Harrisburg, with some struggles at the higher level.
“He had a lot of growth and development at understanding the game and understanding how pitchers are attacking him,” Nationals farm director De Jon Watson said. “It was a great growth year, but there’s still some upside.
“He has some really good games, but he also had to make some adjustments to his offensive approach. Double-A has been most informative to him on how teams go after him.”
In Wood’s age-20 season, the lefthanded hitter led the organization in home runs and RBIs. He also stole 18 bases in 21 attempts.
“Once he started driving the ball over the left field wall, you could see how impressive he can be with his power,” Watson said.
The 6-foot-6 240-pound Wood played a majority of his games in center field and more than 40 in right field.
“His range has been outstanding, and his arm speed has actually improved,” Watson said. “He also has one of the top five sprint speeds in the organization.”
Wood grew up in Maryland and was a Padres second-round pick in 2021 out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. With Harrisburg this summer, he impressed manager Delino DeShields with his positive attitude and work ethic.
“James is an easygoing kid, which sometimes can get misconstrued,” DeShields said. “But if you watch him play, that goes out the window pretty quickly. He plays his butt off, he plays hard. It’s all there. He just has an easy flow to his game. ”
— Several changes are coming to the Nationals’ scouting department, according to the Washington Post. Scouting director Kris Kline, a scout in the organization since 2006, is moving into a new role as a special assistant to general manager Mike Rizzo. International scouting director Johnny DiPuglia resigned, and 12 scouts will not have their contracts renewed.
— Outfielder Andrew Pinckney, a fourth-round pick this year out of Alabama, joined outfielder Dylan Crews and third baseman Yohandy Morales in reaching Double-A in his draft year. Pinckney hit a combined .321/.415/.457 with four home runs in 41 games at four levels. Crews was drafted second overall out of Louisiana State and Morales was a second-round selection out of Miami.