For a brief moment, the future was visible at Nats Park

James Wood and Elijah Green can’t hide in the Nationals clubhouse. With lockers in the back of the oval-shaped room among the veteran position players, the towering prospects already look like they belong on a major league team.

Their pedigrees – Wood as one of the players the Nats received for Juan Soto who shot up prospect rankings over the offseason and Green as the No. 5 overall pick in last summer’s draft – say they’ll be on the major league roster soon. But their limited professional experience – Wood hasn’t reached High-A and Green hasn’t made his Singe-A debut – say they’re still a ways away.

Nevertheless, the Nationals obviously hold them in high regard. They headlined a group of six prospects the team brought with them from Florida to D.C. for Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Yankees. As the Nats broke camp, two of their top prospects got to experience life in the big leagues if only for one day.

“Having Elijah and Wood here is kind of nice to get to see the facility and stuff,” manager Davey Martinez said.

With the major league season kicking off tomorrow, Wood and Green will rejoin their minor league teammates for another week of camp before their minor league seasons start. Green knows he’ll start the season at Single-A Fredericksburg, but Wood has yet to be told where he’ll report, presumably High-A Wilmington after hitting .293 in 21 games with the FredNats to end last year.

Wherever they are this year, both will be bringing valuable experience from major league spring training with them.

“My first camp with the Nationals, it was great. It was a lot of fun,” Wood said. “Kind of got to know really a lot of the guys around the (organization), kind of got comfortable with everybody. So it's just exciting to start the season.”

“The biggest takeaways I'd definitely say timing and just enjoy the moment because nothing was given to me, I earned it every single way and I just thank God for everything,” Green said. “It was pretty fun going in there, competing with the best guys and just going up there and picking the guys' brains and all that and just going out there and having fun.”

Wood and Green, the Nats’ No. 1 and No. 3 ranked prospects, respectively, per MLB Pipeline, were both able to go out and have some fun on the field at Nationals Park during yesterday’s exhibition.

Wood pinch-ran for Dominic Smith in the sixth inning and took over right field in the seventh while wearing a nameless No. 96 jersey, the telltale sign of a minor leaguer. In his only at-bat, he struck out on an 88 mph slider.

Green took over center field in the top of the eighth while wearing a nameless No. 95 jersey and drew a full-count walk in his only plate appearance.

For a brief moment, there was a glimpse into the future the Nationals hope this rebuild is leading them toward, with Wood in right, Green in center and starter MacKenzie Gore on the mound for the first two outs of the eighth inning.

“They're great players,” Gore said. “They're very talented and we're looking forward to them getting their journey going.”

“Those guys are up and coming. We're gonna see them,” Martinez said. “It was nice to get them in the game and watch them. I thought Elijah did a really good job working a walk. They look pretty good out there.”

Again, It was brief, but any Nationals fan watching in the stands or on the MASN broadcast at home couldn’t help but be hopeful for the future with that image.

But for Wood and Green themselves, they’ll worry about that later. Yesterday was just about soaking in the moment and getting some reps in an exhibition game.

“It's definitely great and just kind of sort of getting my feet in the water a little bit,” Wood said. “Sort of seeing how things are around here. It's been a really cool experience.”

“Having me and Woody here just showing that the future is coming,” Green said. “Me and him in the outfield in the future is gonna be really fun.”

They are a ways away from returning to the outfield at Nats Park for a real major league game. But whenever that happens, they both will have high expectations for themselves and the team.

“Really excited,” Green said. “We're gonna try and bring a championship back to D.C. and all that. So I know the future's coming. Maybe in a few years, maybe earlier than that. But I’m just excited for it.”

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