Dan's Dugout: Soto's Start Brightens DC Sky • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Soto’s Start Brightens DC Sky


BOSTON – Ronald Acuna’s reign as the youngest player in the majors proved short-lived.

When the Washington Nationals promoted Juan Sojo to fill an unexpected roster spot, the 19-year-old wunderkind took the title from the Atlanta rookie, who had already reached the ripe old age of 20.

Juan Soto is the newest star in the Washington universe

The newest Nat homered in the first at-bat of his first start, connecting with two men on and emulating teammate Bryce Harper, who also homered as a teenager.

With Harper a potential free agent deserter this fall, Soto has already shown signs of becoming the new face of the franchise.

The 6-1, 185-pound Dominican turned pro when he signed with Washington as a non-drafted free agent in 2015. A year later, he hit .361 en route to Most Valuable Player honors in the Gulf Coast League to jump-start his career.

By the start of this season, he was rated the No. 2 prospect in the Nationals system by Baseball America but wasn’t on the team’s 40-man roster. Nor was he on the team’s radar for 2018.

But Soto was so sensational that he succeeded some two years ahead of schedule.

Beyond his speed, power, and defense, he’s already established a reputation for great plate discipline – an attribute Acuna, Jr. has not been able to match.

Like Bryce Harper, Juan Soto is an outfielder who bats lefthanded

Like Harper, Soto is an outfielder who hits lefthanded and oozes confidence. National League pitchers are already taking notice.

Before the start of Sojo’s sojourn, the three youngest players in baseball all belonged to the Atlanta Braves, a surprise contender for the 2018 National League East title. In addition to Acuna and 20-year-old pitcher Mike Soroka, Atlanta also added slugging second baseman Ozzie Albies, now 21, late last year.

In the East at least, youth is definitely being served.

Elsewhere in baseball:

Bartolo Colon’s Texas teammates smashed his face into a cake to mark his 45th birthday . . .

Major League Baseball has finally admitted that the balls are juiced, just as they were in the hitting-crazy 1930 campaign . . .

Now that they’re in contention, the Atlanta Braves are expected to bid for Josh Donaldson (Blue Jays) or Mike Moustakas (Royals), slugging third basemen virtually certain to be traded by the July 31 deadline.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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