All the way back in April, outfielder Juan Soto was just like any other prospect. Sure, he was viewed as one of the Washington Nationals’ top minor leaguers, but he was still just a 19-year-old gearing up for his first experience in High-A ball.
Fast-forward just a few months to the big league All-Star break, and it’s safe to assume he’s accomplishing things even he didn’t expect. Fans are starting to get excited and using this offer code to place bets on the Nationals.
After posting a ridiculous .790 slugging percentage and 242 wRC+ through 73 plate appearances in High-A, Soto was moved up to Double-A. He wasn’t quite as dominant, but still pretty damn good — he was the proud owner of a .581 slugging percentage and 171 wRC+ through 35 plate appearances at this level.
Eight games later, he found himself in the big leagues and hasn’t turned back. The Nationals are just 48-48 heading into Friday’s action, but they’d be a whole lot worse if they didn’t call up Soto when they did. There have been a number of outstanding teenage major leaguers in recent memory, but none of them have done this:
That’s one way to distinguish yourself.
For a player his age, Soto’s overall plate approach has been incredible — it’s not every day you see a 19-year-old boast a 15.8% walk rate and 19.6% strikeout rate through his first 209 big-league plate appearances. His numbers — which also includes a .399 wOBA and 151 wRC+ — are even more impressive upon seeing his 51.5% ground-ball rate and 29.9% fly-ball rate, all paired with a hard-hit rate that’s solid, but not overly spectacular (36.3%).
The real test will be what comes ahead for the phenom, though. His current month of July has been the first “normal” one he’s had since getting called up. Over his last 66 plate appearances, his wRC+ (98), ISO (.089), ground-ball rate (64.3%), and hard-hit rate (30.2%) are all the worst they’ve been.
Despite that, his impact in Washington has been undeniable. When looking at hitters with at least 200 plate appearances this year, his 151 wRC+ ranks just outside the top 10. At the moment, he’s ahead of guys like Freddie Freeman, Francisco Lindor, Nelson Cruz, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Gleyber Torres.
The Nationals have a lot of work to do in the NL East with teams like the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves outperforming expectations thus far. Nobody would’ve imagined Soto being a crucial piece to the puzzle back in March and April, but that’s exactly the case as summer eventually turns to fall.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.