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New Nationals’ prospect James Wood has “efficient swing” according to veteran scout

Acquired in the trade for Juan Soto and Josh Bell, outfielder is from Maryland, and played at St. John’s in D.C. before heading to IMG …

Nats’ prospect James Wood and veteran scout Mike Toomey. Photo © and courtesy Mike Toomey.

There are many people who are glad to see 6-foot-7 outfielder James Wood back in the Washington, D.C. region.

One is a baseball lifer who knows Wood and his family.

“Welcome home,” veteran major league scout Mike Toomey wrote on social media earlier this week.

Wood, from Olney, Maryland, was acquired in the trade with the San Diego Padres Tuesday for Juan Soto and Josh Bell and the outfielder, who turns 20 next month, is quickly listed among the top five prospects in the improved Nationals’ farm system by several outlets.

Toomey is a former scout for several teams, including for Montreal/Washington from 2002 through 2005.

A native of Hyattsville, Maryland, Toomey worked out in January with lefty swinger Wood at a facility in Montgomery County, Maryland at the request of Wood’s father, Kenny, a former basketball standout at the University of Richmond who is in the athletic Hall of Fame at that school.

“We met this January; I got to see him hit. Those kind of kids need to be left alone. For a big kid, he has an efficient swing,” Toomey told Federal Baseball on Wednesday. “You can see the kind of power the kid has. Great kid, great family and he is soft-spoken. He does things naturally well. The day I saw him, he had a routine he had been doing for a long time. He goes the other way and stays closed with his front side. His dad pitched to him, which was great, so I could watch him.”

Wood was drafted in the second round by the Padres in 2021 out of IMG Academy. He was teammates there with Elijah Green, the first-round pick of the Nationals earlier this summer. Green’s father also played college sports in Virginia – football at Liberty in Lynchburg.

Now that he is with Washington, Wood was assigned to the Single-A Fredericksburg Nationals.

His sister, Sydney, played basketball for Division I Northwestern this past season.

“The first time I saw him he was at St. John’s and I went over to Cabin John where they were practicing,” Toomey said of the facility in Maryland. “I asked, ‘Who is that kid out there?’ He was wiry strong with a great body. Everything he did was really easy.”

Wood, who transferred from St. John’s to IMG in Florida, hit 10 homers in 209 at-bats with an average of .321 in the minors this year while with San Diego, with an OPS of 1.004.

Toomey, the former head coach at George Washington University, retired from the Royals a few years ago after winning a World Series ring with Kansas City in 2015.

He has stay involved working with young players in various ways and was the pitching coach for DeMatha Catholic in Maryland this past season.

A recent product of St. John’s to make the Major Leagues was L.J. Hoes, who was drafted out of the school by the Orioles in 2008.

Hoes, a right-handed hitter, broke in with the Orioles in 2012 and ended his playing career with Houston in 2015.

St. John’s and DeMatha are both part of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.