James Wood [576x324]
James Wood [576x324] (Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports)

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While New York Yankees OF Juan Soto continues to thrive as one of fantasy baseball's top players, one of the young players that the Washington Nationals received from the San Diego Padres organization in their 2002 trade of Soto looks to be just about ready to make his own big-league noise.

James Wood, also an outfielder, entered this week hitting .353/.457/.564 for Triple-A Rochester -- numbers that rank among the best figures in the minor leagues. He has seven home runs and 10 stolen bases, and nearly as many walks as strikeouts.

Wood, a hulking presence at 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, is rostered in only 5.2% of ESPN standard leagues, so when the Nationals do decide to promote him to the major leagues, many fantasy managers will still have the opportunity to invest. Perhaps more should be investing in advance. The Nationals want Wood, a left-handed slugger with plate discipline, to see more repetitions versus left-handed pitching, even though he is hitting a solid .297/.381/.568 against lefties (compared to his stellar  .370/.479/.563 against right-handed pitching).

The current trio of Washington OFs (Jesse Winker, Victor Robles, Eddie Rosario) are certainly not hitting like that and are not likely to be a part of the next contending Nationals team, whenever that may be. Frankly, Wood deserves to hit in the middle of the MLB lineup right now. Certainly, his current numbers hardly mean Wood will dominate as he has in the minors, especially since myriad other prospects have struggled at the top level this season. Still, perhaps Wood will be the exception.

Status report on top stashes

We are nearly one-third of the way through the MLB season and ESPN fantasy managers, with short benches, are mostly leaving minor-league prospects as free agents. Here are the prospects rostered in the most ESPN standard leagues, along with some general expectations for promotion time and impactful statistics.

Jackson Holliday, SS/2B, Baltimore Orioles (24.7% rostered): Holliday hit two singles in 34 at-bats with the Orioles (.059/.111/.059) back in April, striking out half the time. Since then, he has been back with Triple-A Norfolk for the past four weeks, drawing many walks but not hitting for power or stealing bases. Holliday, 20, remains a likely star, but we may not see him back in the major leagues for a while, since Jorge Mateo is handling things nicely at second base. It's good to see Holliday still rostered in so many leagues, but a few others on this list may be better short-term investments. If Holliday is promoted, fantasy managers may not get great numbers in 2024, but just wait until next year!

Junior Caminero, 3B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays (17.9%): Caminero, also 20, is hitting .301/.368/.540 for Triple-A Durham, and he is having no trouble hitting baseballs both hard and far. He had played third base for most of this season, but with 3B Isaac Paredes hitting cleanup in the majors, Caminero recently moved to second base for the Bulls -- a clear indication of the position he could inherit for the Rays soon. Caminero posted a .631 OPS over 36 PA late last season, a reminder that even the top prospects are no lock to hit right away. However, he sure looks like he will hit for power and average right away when promoted again. At this point, redraft fantasy managers should roster Caminero over Holliday, Wood and every other prospect.

Jasson Dominguez, OF, New York Yankees (8.7%): Dominguez is on the mend from Tommy John surgery (yes, it happens to non-pitchers, too), and he is expected to spend time at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when his rehab window ends. Dominguez, 21, is an enticing power/speed option and the Yankees would love to make him their center fielder for the next decade, moving Aaron Judge to an outfield corner. Whether this occurs this July or not until 2025 is another matter. The Yankees are already a bit overbooked in the outfield, but Dominguez could change that if he rakes in the minors. We may not see him in the majors until next season.

Best of the rest Wood, OF, Nationals (5.2%): At this point, it seems likely we see Wood with the Nationals in June. I would still take Caminero over Wood, but certainly the case can be made. Dylan Crews, OF, Nationals (1.9%): The No. 2 pick in the 2023 draft behind Pirates RHP Paul Skenes is posting ordinary numbers at Double-A Harrisburg, with little power and a low walk rate. It seems likely we don't see Crews in the majors until 2025. Coby Mayo, 3B/1B, Orioles (1.8%): A right-handed hitting slugger with 26 extra-base hits in 42 games at Triple-A Norfolk, Mayo likely gets the call to the majors before Holliday gets his next promotion. Mayo is currently on the IL due to a fractured rib, but could make his MLB debut around the All-Star break. Jordan Lawlar, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks (1.5%): Lawlar tore a ligament in his right thumb in March and he has yet to play this season. The Diamondbacks have little blocking him at the big league level, but Lawlar probably needs a few productive months at Triple-A Reno before any promotion. Fantasy managers may need to wait until 2025 on this one, as well.