by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There’s been a groundswell in the hype of the National’s Juan Soto, with many expecting him to emerge as a Top 20 prospect or better by year’s end. While he did fall short of our Top 50 list (though not by much), it’s hard to argue against the potential that he owns.
We ranked him as team’s third best prospect (click here for the full Top 10) as we said:
“Playing at 17-years old, Soto was highly impressive during his time in Rookie Ball (183 PA) as he hit .361 with 5 HR and 5 SB. Adding 11 doubles and 3 triples shows his power potential and a 13.7% strikeout rate for a player his age shows an impressive approach. He obviously has a long way to go and a lot can happen, but he seems to be in the same type of situation as Victor Robles a year ago (though without the elite speed).”
The level doesn’t matter when you show that type of strike zone command at that age. Sure the strikeouts will rise as he moves up against more advanced pitching, but his approach and swing are a thing of beauty and may only get better as he matures and develops.
MLB.com gave a great description of him at the plate saying:
“Soto possesses natural hitting ability that belies his age. His left-handed swing is smooth and rhythmic, allowing Soto to consistently barrel the ball and generate hard contact from line to line. He has the bat speed and barrel control to handle good fastballs and also receives raves for his ability to recognize spin at a young age.”
He’s currently listed at 6’1” and 185 lbs., but he’s still just 18-years old so he’s going to grow and mature. That will allow him to tap into his raw power, with 20-25 HR annually in his future. You pair that with a .280+ average, and the potential to put up .300 seasons when everything clicks, and it makes sense that there’s a lot of love.
Soto is not quite the total package, since he doesn’t have much speed and may never steal 10+ bases in a season, but that would just be nit-picking. The power/average combination could put him among the elite in the game, especially if he’s hitting in the middle of the order and racking up 100+ RBI.
He’s still years away from getting there, as he likely won’t arrive in Washington until 2019 or 2020 (at the earliest) and then will need time to acclimate himself and adjust. That said count us among the Soto supporters and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s featured prominently in our 2018 Top 50 prospect list. It will be interesting to see how he produces this season and if it dampens the outlook, but for now consider us all in.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: