Nationals top prospect James Wood hits 1st career homer, then 1st career double

James Wood certainly looked like a top prospect on Saturday.

In his sixth career game, the Washington Nationals rookie connected for the first home run of his MLB career, going opposite field off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn in the second inning with two men on base.

The Nationals' announcers knew where it was going as soon as it came off the bat:

Per Baseball Savant, the ball had an exit velocity of 103.3 mph and traveled 383 feet.

Wood kept it going one inning later, when he drove in two runs with his first career double to reach five RBI for the game.

The Nationals rode that hot start to a 14-6 win. Wood finished the day slashing .304/.407/.478 with four walks and six strikeouts in 27 plate appearances.

That's some of the plus-plus power that pushed Wood up the prospect rankings this season. Earlier this week, Baseball America named the 21-year-old its No. 1 prospect in all of baseball, ahead of their preseason No. 1 prospect, Baltimore Orioles shortstop Jackson Holliday (Pittsburgh Pirates phenom Paul Skenes also surpassed Holliday, but has graduated).

MLB Pipeline also currently has Wood as its No. 2 prospect, behind Holliday.

At a listed 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, Wood is a giant by baseball standards and possesses a collection of tools that stands out even among top prospects. In addition to his power, he's an elite runner both in the outfield and on the basepaths and has markedly improved his contact abilities at the plate this season, going from a 33% strikeout rate at Double-A last season to 18.2% at Triple-A this season.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 06: James Wood #29 of the Washington Nationals celebrates hitting a three run home run, his first career home run home, in the second inning during a baseball game against St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park on July 6, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
James Wood could be a superstar for the Nationals. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Wood is by no means the only top prospect in the Nationals' system right now — 2023 No. 2 overall pick Dylan Crews is ranked fourth overall by MLB Pipeline — but he could be the linchpin of their current rebuild. Wood was the top talent acquired in Washington's franchise-altering Juan Soto trade, which has so far worked out decently for the Nats, with shortstop C.J. Abrams and starting pitcher MacKenzie Gore already looking like franchise cornerstones.

Wood's first home run coming against the Cardinals is also interesting considering the Nationals could very well have traded Soto to St. Louis rather than the San Diego Padres.