One of two of the five prospects acquired from San Diego in the trade deadline deal which sent Juan Soto and Josh Bell to Padres who already had some big league experience on his résumé before the trade, C.J. Abrams was optioned to Triple-A in Washington’s system this week, with GM Mike Rizzo explaining to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies he wanted to allow the 21-year-old, 2019 1st Round pick (No. 6 overall) to get settled before he’s called up to play short in the majors for the Nationals.
“C.J. Abrams is a 21-year-old kind of an electrifying shortstop we’re sending him to Triple-A for now,” Rizzo said, “... just to get his feet wet in the organization like we did with Keibert Ruiz the year before. That transition period coming from the only organization that you’ve ever been in to a new organization across the country is difficult, so we wanted to make that transition easier. So, but we should see him in the near future.”
In three seasons in the minors after he was drafted, Abrams had a .331/.386/.518 line with 31 doubles, nine triples, and 12 home runs in 107 games and 504 plate appearances as he rose quickly and debuted in the majors earlier this season.
Before the trade, he’d played in a total of 46 games with a .232/.285/.320 line, five doubles, two homers, four walks, and 27 Ks in 139 PAs.
“He’s a tooled-up, twitchy type of live-body guy that can really run,” Rizzo said after making the trade with the Padres, “really play shortstop, very acrobatic, and light on his feet, and he’s got twitchy hands, and really a quick bat. We see him as a five-tool type of talent. He can steal you a base, he stays at shortstop, he’s got a good arm, and a guy that can hit at the top of any order.”
When he does eventually come up, manager Davey Martinez told reporters on Saturday, in advance of the third of three with the Philadelphia Phillies in Citizens Bank, the fifth-year manager said Abrams will play short, with Luis García likely shifting back over to second base after he played there when he first got the call to the majors in 2020 and in ‘21.
“C.J. is coming up here one of these days,” Martinez said. “He’s gonna play some short and we want Luis to play some second. César [Hernández] has played everywhere in the past, so I told him just get used to playing all three infield positions. So I want to keep these guys going and keep them flexible.”
They’ve already started to prepare García, who’s played short exclusively this year, after he played mostly second in his first two big league runs. García came up as a shortstop, but he’s had success at second in the majors as well, while struggling with his footwork and his throwing at short.
“He’s already been over there [at second] taking ground balls, like I said, just in case we do bring Abrams up here,” Martinez said. “So, he’s been taking ground balls over there. And all of our infielders actually have been taking ground balls throughout the infield now, so it’s kind of nice. I want them to move around and just get used to taking ground balls in different positions.”
For now, Martinez said, he’s going to keep García at short, until they decided to reach down for Abrams.
“We’ll see as we get closer. Right now, he’s playing a lot better at shortstop. He made some nice plays yesterday, turned a real nice double play yesterday, so we want to keep him over there right now.”
Wood In Fredericksburg:
James Wood, a 19-year-old, 2021 2nd Round pick by the Padres was described by GM Mike Rizzo this week as a, “a 6’7’’,” 240-pound outfielder, with, “... a specimen of a body.”
“He’s got big-time power, he was a plus-plus runner, and just is a good balance player,” Rizzo added.
In his debut in the Nationals’ organization, at Single-A Fredericksburg, Wood went 4 for 6 with a two-run home run, three RBIs, a run scored, and two Ks, making an immediate and good impression on his new club.
James Wood has arrived.— Nationals Player Development (@Nats_PlayerDev) August 6, 2022
Wood (@FXBGNats) homered in his 1st game in the Nationals organization.
He finished with 4 hits, 3 RBI and a run scored.@jwood_29 // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/szeTukSsbQ
Wood definitely caught his manager’s attention with the big debut for the FredNats.
“Wood had a great day yesterday, so it was kind of fun to watch him, watch the videos, had a really good day, [4 for 6], home run, played well.”
While his focus is on the 26 guys on the big league roster, and trying to go 1-0 every day, Martinez, just like the rest of us, is intrigued to see what’s going on down on the farm, so the skipper checks for updates every morning as part of his daily routine.
“It’s good to see that these young guys are doing well,” he said. “We got some guys — I check up on all our guys, you know, we got some guys down there that are having really good years, and that’s really, really good to see.”
Wood went 1 for 5 with a single in his second game last night (with Jackson Rutledge, the Nationals’ 2019 1st Round pick, tossing five scoreless on 90 pitches, and striking out six).
What’s particularly intriguing about Wood for the Nats’ manager?
“I mean, you think about guys that are that size. You think about [Giancarlo] Stanton, you think about [Aaron] Judge, and then you got him, who’s young and still developing...
“But I say, man, if he continues to mature and we watch his growth, he’s got potential to be really good that’s the exciting thing about it.”
MacKenzie Gore, 23, was the other prospect acquired from San Diego who debuted in the major leagues for the Padres before he was included in this week’s franchise-altering (for both sides) deadline deal.
“[Gore] finally put it all together at the age of 23, and he’s got big stuff, a big arm from the left side,” GM Mike Rizzo said this past Tuesday afternoon, “and came out of the chute very, very strong, and kind of faded out because he’s pitched from limited innings for his whole professional career, so we’re going to go easy with him when he gets here and really kind of take him slow and step-by-step.”
In his first eight outings this season (seven starts), Gore, who made his MLB debut on April 15th, put up a 1.71 ERA, a 2.33 FIP, 14 walks, 47 Ks, and a .208/.283/.255 line against in 42 IP, but he was up and down over the last two months, (8.68 ERA, 6.80 FIP, 23 walks, 25 Ks, and rough .299/.420/.530 line against in eight games, six starts, and a total of 28 IP) before the southpaw went on the IL with inflammation in his left elbow late last month.
“It was just some discomfort, and then … it’s minor,” Gore said when he joined his new club on the road in Philadelphia this weekend.
“So yeah, everything’s fine. Just kind of building strength back and getting everything 100% and should be fine.”
According to Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez, the southpaw, who Rizzo said really, “has a chance to be a front-line starting pitcher to put in the mix with [Josiah] Gray, [Cade] Cavalli and [Cole] Henry,” in a future Nats’ rotation, will start throwing again this coming week.
“He’s working hard,” Martinez told reporters.
“He wants to come back. He’s going to start throwing on Friday, start playing catch, so we’ll get him going and then we’ll see where he’s at after that.”