James Wood, a talented prospect and local product, could be a major factor in the Nationals’ turnaround after painful Juan Soto trade
The Washington Nationals are in the midst of an organizational rebuild after it was clear the wheels had completely fallen off from their 2019 World Series team. In early August, they arguably made the most painful trade of all, parting ways with All-Star outfielder and generational talent Juan Soto when it was apparent he would not re-sign long-term. The Nats got back five prospects in return from the San Diego Padres who they hope will help make them contenders once again in the future.
The haul was a badly needed replenishment of the Nats’ farm system that entered the season ranked 23rd overall on MLB.com’s rankings. Two of the key players in the deal, MacKenzie Gore and C.J. Abrams, have both graduated from prospect status, but Robert Hassell III (23rd best prospect in baseball), James Wood (35th best), and Jarlin Susana have boosted the Nats to #15 on MLB’s midseason farm system rankings.
“You can’t forget that Anthony (Rendon) and Trea (Turner) and Max (Scherzer) and (Bryce) Harper, all these guys, they were the Abrams, the Hassells, and the Woods of the world before they became superstars,” GM Mike Rizzo said to the Sports Junkies last month. “That’s what I would tell the fans. We put ourselves in a position to have sustained success and we’re hoping that this trade, the last trade deadline, and the last couple of drafts will allow us to supplement the talent base. Our goal is to win championships.”
On Friday, I went down to Fredericksburg’s Virginia Credit Union Stadium to watch the Fredericksburg Nationals play the Down East Wood Ducks where the Nats’ burgeoning young talent was on display. James Wood, batting 3rd and playing centerfield for the Nats, led the team with a four-hit night, including two doubles and two runs batted in. Fredericksburg piled on with a season-high 23 runs. Behind James in the order was 2021 eighth-round pick Will Frizzell, who had three home runs and knocked in seven runs.