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Juan José Soto Pacheco (born October 25, 1998) is a Dominican professional baseball outfielder for the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball (MLB).Contents
Soto signed with the Washington Nationals as an international free agent in July 2015. He made his professional debut in 2016 with the Gulf Coast League Nationals in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and was named the Gulf Coast League Most Valuable Player after hitting .368 with five home runs and 32 runs batted in (RBIs). In September 2016 he was promoted to the Auburn Doubledays of the Class A-Short Season New York-Penn League for the final few games of the 2016 season. Appearing in six games for the Doubledays, he went 9-for-21 (.429) with three doubles and an RBI. He finished the 2016 season with an overall batting average of .368, five home runs, and 32 RBIs.
Promoted to play with the Hagerstown Suns of the Class A South Atlantic League in 2017, Soto got off to a hot start before he injured his ankle while sliding into home in a May 2, 2017, game and landed on the disabled list. At the time of his injury, he was batting .360 with three home runs in 23 games with the Suns. In July 2017, MLB Pipeline ranked Soto as the Nationals' second-best prospect and the 42nd-best among all prospects. Soto did not return to the Suns in 2017, but he had two rehabilitation stints with the Gulf Coast Nationals, one of five games in July 2017 and a second one of four games in September 2017 before injuring his hamstring and finally being shut down for the season. In the nine games with the Gulf Coast League Nationals, he went 8-for-25 (.320) with a double, a triple, and four RBIs, and he finished the 2017 season with an overall batting average of .351, three home runs, and 18 RBIs.
Soto entered 2018 as one of the top prospects in the minor leagues. He started the season playing with the Hagerstown Suns, hitting .373 in 16 games with five home runs and 24 RBIs, before he was promoted early in the season to the Potomac Nationals in the Class A-Advanced Carolina League. After 15 games with Potomac, in which he hit .371 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs, he was promoted to play with the Harrisburg Senators in the Class AA Eastern League. He had appeared in eight games for the Senators, going 10-for-31 (.323) with two doubles, two home runs, and 10 RBIs, when on May 20, 2018, the Washington Nationals called him up to the major leagues for the first time to reinforce their outfield after an injury to second baseman and outfielder Howie Kendrick..Washington Nationals
Soto made his major-league debut on May 20, 2018, becoming the youngest player in the major leagues at 19 years 207 days, and the first player born in 1998 to appear in a major-league game. He came on as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., and struck out swinging against right-handed relief pitcher Erik Goeddel.
He made his first major league start the next day, playing left field in a game against the San Diego Padres at Nationals Park, and on the first pitch of his first plate appearance of the game he got his first major-league hit, a 422-foot (128.6-meter) opposite-field three-run homer off of Robbie Erlin. After rounding the bases and returning to the dugout, Soto stepped back out for a curtain call from the crowd. He became the youngest player in franchise history to hit a home run and the first teenager to homer in a major-league game since Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper did it at the age of 19 in 2012. "He's a special player," Harper said of Soto after the game. Soto became the youngest major league player since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989 to be intentionally walked in a game when Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter elected to put him on base automatically rather than give him an opportunity to drive in a run on May 29.
In June 2018, shortly after being called up to the major leagues, Soto was listed by Baseball America as the Nationals' top prospect, overtaking fellow outfielder Víctor Robles, and the fourth-best overall prospect in baseball.
Soto contributed to a notable oddity when he hit a home run against the New York Yankees on June 18, 2018. The contest had actually began on May 15, 2018, but was suspended until June 18 due to inclement weather with a score tied at 3-all. Since stoppage occurred in the fifth inning, a team would have been awarded the win if they were ahead, which implied that he had technically hit a home run before his MLB debut. However, to prevent confusion, it was added in sequence to his already-accrued home run total, as his sixth home run. He had hit three home runs in his first five plate appearances against the Yankees. On June 21, he started as the cleanup hitter for the first time in the major leagues, in a contest versus the Baltimore Orioles. He doubled home the winning run in a 4–2 victory. Soto's first multi-home run game came on June 29, 2018, at Citizens Bank Park against the Philadelphia Phillies as he tallied two home runs, four hits, and five RBIs as the Nationals defeated the Phillies 17-7.
Soto was involved in another odd play on August 7, when he hit a fly ball to center field, where it deflected off the glove of Atlanta Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte, hit the outfield wall, and went into the glove of Adam Duvall. Thinking the ball fell right into Duvall's glove, Nationals baserunner Trea Turner ran back to first while Soto kept running to second, resulting in Soto being called out when they passed one another.References