Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked about Juan Soto’s patience at the plate as one of the main attributes the 19-year-old possessed that made him comfortable calling the top available outfield prospect up when he did in May.
“That’s probably the biggest reason that he is here,” Rizzo explained. “It’s hard to take a young, talented, free-swinging 19-year-old and bring him to the big leagues.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to bring several 19-year-old players to the big leagues,” the Nats’ GM continued, noting that he had overseen the development of players like Justin Upton while in Arizona and Bryce Harper and Victor Robles in D.C., who all debuted at 19.
“They had one thing in common,” Rizzo said. “They knew the strike zone. They weren’t wild swingers and controlled their at-bats.”
Soto has shown an advanced knowledge of the strike zone and displayed a preternatural ability to control his at bats since making his MLB debut, and on Tuesday night in his first trip to the plate, he accomplished something no teenaged player has done in the last 118 years.
Soto took his 67th walk of the season, which the Nationals’ PR team noted was the most by a teenager since 1900. Soto passed Mel Ott, who walked 66 times for the New York Giants in 1926-28.
Ott, of course, got up to 66 over 241 games and 741 plate appearances, whereas Soto’s 67th walk came in his 94th game and 393rd plate appearance.
According to the Nats’ PR team’s tweet, Willie McGill, who drew 75 walks from 1890-1893, has the most by a teenager overall.
McGill, who was a pitcher, took 75 walks in 108 games and 379 PAs for the Cleveland Infants (of something called the Players League), the Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers, the St. Louis Browns, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago Colts. Did we make some of those names up? Maybe. But no.
Soto took his 68th walk of the 2018 campaign later in the game and finished the night 0 for 3 with three Ks and two walks.