Teenager Juan Soto Shows Uncommon Maturity
Nineteen-year-old outfielder Juan Soto started the season at low Class A Hagerstown and was in the big leagues by the end of May. Not only that, but he hit .313/.429/.570 with eight home runs through 38 games.
Farm director Mark Scialabba praised Soto’s attention to detail, work ethic and consistent preparation for each at-bat. In an era in which strikeouts keep creeping upward, Soto even changes his stance with two strikes. He had nearly as many walks (26) as strikeouts (30) as a teenager in the middle of a contending team’s big league lineup.
"He continues to improve all aspects of his game—on the defensive side of the ball and on the bases as well,” Scialabba said. "He’s incredibly talented and understands the strike zone extremely well. Yet he has the confidence, poise and discipline to stay in the strike zone and attack pitches he can drive to all fields.”
Before his callup to Washington, Soto hit .362/.462/.757 with 14 home runs in 152 at-bats between Hagerstown, high Class A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.
"He’s a special, talented player, and he is able to make the necessary adjustments level to level so successfully because of his physical, mental and emotional maturity well beyond his years,” Scialabba said.
BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD
Righthander Jefry Rodriguez made strides with his stuff and with his aggressiveness, earning his first major league callup before heading to Triple-A Syracuse.
The 24-year-old went 5-3, 3.31 with 72 strikeouts and 28 walks in 68 innings in Double-A and had recorded a 5.93 ERA with 12 strikeouts and eight walks in his first 14 major league innings over three appearances.
"He’s beginning to understand how to make adjustments, how to handle adversity and how best to utilize his strengths,” Scialabba said. "He’s utilizing his two-seam fastball well, leveraging the baseball down in the zone to both sides of the plate, but he is also able to finish hitters with his fastball that continues to improve and has reached 100 (mph).”
The 6-foot-6 Rodriguez has also thrown his curveball early in the count and used it to finish off hitters from both sides of the plate, Scialabba pointed out.
Vlad Jr., Eloy Jimenez Could Be 2019's Version Of Acuna and Soto
Rookies like Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna Jr. mesmerized baseball in 2018. And the game may have a sequel on its hands once Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez finally arrive.
** The high Class A Potomac Nationals announced plans to move about 30 miles south from Woodbridge, Va., to Fredericksburg, Va., in time for the 2020 season. According to InsideNova.com, the Fredericksburg City Council is expected to vote on the letter of intent outlining the agreement at its July 10 meeting.