News & Politics

5 Things to Know About James Wood, the Nats’ Top Prospect

The slugger is expected to make his MLB debut on Monday.

Photograph courtesy Washington Nationals.

At 39-44, the rebuilding Washington Nationals are playing surprisingly competitive baseball at the midway point of the 2024 MLB season. Now a key piece of their rebuilding process is set to join the team. James Wood, a 6’7″ outfielder—and’s #3 prospect in all of baseball—is expected to make his Major League debut on Monday, according to The Washington Post, as the Nationals host the Mets. Here’s what you need to know about Wood:


1. He’s from the DMV.

DC may have the reputation of a transplant city, but the Nationals’ newest star is a local through and through. Wood grew up in Olney and initially attended St. John’s College High School in DC, before finishing his education at Florida’s athletic powerhouse IMG Academy.


2. He was part of the Juan Soto trade.

When the Nats flipped star outfielder Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres in 2022, it marked the final nail in the coffin of a team that had won the World Series just three years prior. But the return for Soto so far (now a New York Yankee) has assuaged Nationals fans’ grief; CJ Abrams has All-Star potential at shortstop, MacKenzie Gore looks like a fixture in the pitching rotation for years to come, and fellow outfield prospect Robert Hassell is also been turning heads in the minors. If Wood pans out, the Soto trade could look less like a heartbreak and more like a heist.


3. He’s got power for days.

The Nationals, who have been rebuilding ever since the aforementioned Soto trade, have managed to hang around the .500 mark for most of this season. But it’s been primarily through pitching and small-ball; they’re second from last in the majors in home runs. Enter Wood, who mashed 10 homers and slugged 1.058 in just 52 games this season at the AAA level. With his towering frame and elite power-swinging potential, Wood has already drawn comparisons to the likes of Aaron Judge.


4. He comes from an athletic bloodline.

Wood hails from a family of athletes—albeit, he’s the first to pick the baseball diamond over the hardwood court. His father, Kenny, was a hall-of-fame forward for the University of Richmond; his sister, Sydney, was a team captain for Northwestern; and his uncle, Howard, played a season for the Utah Jazz after being drafted 27th overall in 1981.


5. He grew up a Yankees fan.

Boo! Yes, although the MoCo native was born in 2002—the Nats came to town in 2005—Wood instead supported the Evil Empire as a kid, telling Yahoo Sports in 2023 that his favorite player was Curtis Granderson, a fellow outfielder who retired with 344 career home runs. Nationals fans can only hope he follows in his role model’s footsteps.

Arya Hodjat
Editorial Fellow