[ed. note- “We wrote the following after Juan Soto’s debut and we’ve been waiting for Soto to get all MLBPA’d up so it could get approved. Which it is now.”]
Juan Soto homered in the first at bat of his first game at Low-A Hagerstown this season, in his second game at High-A Potomac, and in his second at bat in his first game at Double-A Harrisburg.
Then last month in Nationals Park, the 19-year-old slugger, who struck out in his first major league at bat in a pinch hit appearance on Sunday, hit the first pitch he saw as a starter in the big leagues to left field for an opposite field, three-run blast.
He didn’t look it, at all, but the Nats’ prospect said he was a little nervous when he stepped to the plate for the first time in the series opener with the San Diego Padres.
“Just my first at bat I was really nervous,” Soto told reporters after what ended up a 10-2 win.
“I was saying, ‘Oh my God.’ Just try to breathe, [calm] down, and come do my job.”
He didn’t even know he hit it out.
“I didn’t think it was going to go out of the park, I just run hard the same when I do it in the minor leagues, and then I heard the noise and I knew it was gone,” Soto said.
By the time Soto made it around the bases, he was calm enough to try a Bryce Harper hair flip in celebration of his first MLB home run ... even though he doesn’t really have the hair for it.
“He’s a special player,” the grizzled, 25-year-old veteran Harper told reporters when asked about Soto’s contributions to the Nationals’ win after that game.
“We’ve seen that throughout the minor leagues and saw that in Spring Training as well.
“We’re all excited for him to be here and excited for him to help us out, and super-proud of him and just have to keep it going.”
“It’s exciting,” Gio Gonzalez added, after starting and earning the win that night.
“It just goes to show you that baseball is — if you’re not a selfish player, you’re not selfish at all, you can still feel for your teammates and get the excitement the same way. If we were excited for him, I can imagine how he was feeling. He must have felt over the moon, and it didn’t stop there, he continued to play the game hard.”
Soto went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and three RBIs in his first start in the majors.
“I told you he’s got unbelievable poise, and he’s really, really, really a student of the game, he really is and he pays attention,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters.
“I sat there and watched him, he sat next to me, he just watched everything going on, it’s pretty good to see.”
Best part of it all? Soto’s parents were in attendance in Nationals Park, having traveled from the Dominican Republic to watch their son start for the first time in the majors after missing his first at bat on Sunday.
“They got here yesterday, but they couldn’t be here for the game, so maybe it’s a blessing,” Soto said. “I strike out [yesterday] and then come here, do my thing.”
Welcome to the big leagues, Juan. And welcome to Washington, D.C.