ATLANTA -- Juan Soto displayed a different element of his extremely talented game in Saturday afternoon's 7-1 victory against the Braves. Soto swiped three bases -- all with Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran on the mound -- making him the youngest player in MLB history with three stolen bases in a single game.
Rickey Henderson had been the previous record holder at 20 years and 241 days before Soto became the first teenager to accomplish the feat at 19 years and 325 days.
"He's up there with Rickey, huh? That guy, he doesn't surprise me," manager Dave Martinez said. "He pays attention to what's going on. He's a student of the game. He felt like he had an opportunity to run on certain guys, and he did."
Entering Saturday, Soto had only two steals on the year and had never swiped more than five in the Minors. But he saw something to take advantage of on the bases Saturday and decided to pounce, surpassing his stolen-base total for the year in just one day.
"That feels pretty good," Soto said. "Most guys like me don't steal that much. I was there and stole three bags and helped my team to win."
Soto netted his first steal in the first inning. After delivering a two-out single, he swiped second with Mark Reynolds at the plate. He was stranded there when Reynolds popped out to end the frame.
In the top of the fourth, Soto led off with a walk. After Reynolds struck out, Soto got to work on the basepaths, stealing second base with Wilmer Difo at the plate. Difo eventually drew a walk, and with Spencer Kieboom hitting, the Nats pulled off a double steal as Difo took second and Soto slid into third for his third stolen base of the game.
"I [saw] a couple things I can take advantage of," Soto said. "So every time I'm on base, I tried to take advantage of the pitcher."
Soto, who reached base four times Saturday with three walks and a single in the first inning, extended his streak to 20 consecutive games where he has reached base. Only three teenagers since 1920 have accomplished such a feat and the other two are Hall of Famers. Mel Ott reached based in 22 consecutive games in 1928, and Mickey Mantle did it in 21 games in 1951.
While speed does not figure to play a huge role in Soto's game going forward, he said if the opportunity presents itself, he could certainly see himself stealing more bases. What kind of player can Soto be if he consistently adds that extra element to his game?
"Barry Bonds," Difo said with a smile.