At this point, with all that Juan Soto’s done in his first month in the majors, did Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez expect the 19-year-old outfielder to come through when he stepped to the plate last night with two on and one out in the eighth in what was then a 2-2 game with the Baltimore Orioles?
“I expect him to have a good at bat, and he did,” Martinez said, after Soto doubled to left-center field to drive in two runs in what ended up a 4-2 win over the O’s.
“It worked out well today. We hit the ball hard throughout the whole game. It’s good to see Soto come through right there.”
Soto was in the cleanup sport in the Nats’ lineup for the first time in his career, and he was the first teenager to hit out of the four-hole since 1970.
Soto was 0 for 2 with a walk before the big opposite field double, and after the walk, he’d reached base safely in 24 of his first 28 games.
He finished the finale with the Orioles in D.C. with a .326/.426/.598 line, 16 BB, 20 Ks, seven doubles, and six home runs after a little over a month in the majors.
Soto’s knowledge of the strike zone, and overall approach at the plate, convinced the Nats he was capable of jumping up to the majors from Double-A after he started the season in Low-A Hagerstown, jumped to High-A Potomac and moved up to Harrisburg before getting the call-up for his MLB debut.
Martinez was asked how impressed he’s been with Soto’s calm demeanor in big spots and ability to keep his good approach in big situations.
“He’s got unbelievable poise,” Martinez said. “No matter what the situation is, he goes up there with a game plan.”
Soto didn’t wait long to execute it in the eighth, taking a first-pitch changeup from O’s right-hander Mychal Givens before driving an 0-1 fastball to left-center field to drive Bryce Harper and Trea Turner in and put the Nationals on top.
Martinez said after the win that he would take some time and think about how he’d line his team up for tonight’s game, after Harper moved to the leadoff spot last night as well.
For tonight’s series opener with the Phillies, the first-year skipper has Harper back on top and Soto still in the middle.