Washington Nationals prospect Juan Soto, the most productive position player across minor league baseball this season, has been called up from Class A Advanced Potomac to Class AA Harrisburg, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
It is already Soto’s second promotion this season; he hit five home runs with a 1.300 OPS in 16 games for Class A Hagerstown to start the year to earn a call-up to Potomac. He was just as good at the higher level, batting .371 with a 1.256 OPS and seven home runs in just 15 games. Add it up and the 19-year-old outfielder batted .372 with 12 home runs, eight doubles, four triples, 42 RBI and a 1.278 OPS in 31 games between the two stops.
The staggering success — and increasing hype surrounding it — proves what Nationals officials and other observers have insisted: Only a couple unlucky injuries were holding Soto back from displaying all-star-level potential.
After winning the Gulf Coast League batting title in 2016, the left-handed-hitting Soto played in just 32 games last season because he fractured his ankle on a play at the plate and then needed surgery on his right hand. He produced when on the field — he hit .351 with a .919 OPS between the Gulf Coast League and Hagerstown — but appeared in only nine games after May 2.
Still, the glimpse was enough for Soto to garner interest from other clubs in trade talks, land on Top 1oo prospect lists and become the Nationals’ consensus No. 2 prospect behind Victor Robles, another outfielder who has faced his fair share of injuries and is currently out with a hyperextended left elbow.
Soto now gets a chance at Class AA, where future big leaguers separate themselves from the pack. There, he will encounter pitchers with better command of secondary pitches, which often trips up younger hitters. But Soto, the Nationals and other observers maintain, isn’t your typical young hitter. He is lauded for his understanding of the strike zone and plate discipline. This season, for example, he has more walks (25) than strikeouts (21).
He’ll be one of the youngest players at the Class AA level. Chances are he won’t mash his way out of it at this current warped pace. But he doesn’t need to. He’s already outpacing his peers, on track to perhaps surface in the majors by the end of next year. It’ll be a challenge and the Nationals have decided he’s up for it.