Only 20 years old, Soto 'way above his years'

August 24th, 2019

In the second Young Stars Week of the 2019 season, MLB is celebrating some of the game's most dynamic emerging talents each day from Aug. 19-23. Today, the spotlight is on 20-year-old Nationals outfielder Juan Soto.

There's one question about that stumps Nationals manager Dave Martinez -- does the rising superstar remind him of any other player throughout MLB history?

After some deliberation, Martinez concluded the answer was no.

"He's got his own little personality, his own way," Martinez said.

Not only that, but Soto has shown maturity. That makes it easy to forget that he won't turn 21 until Oct. 25.

Here are five stats that show just how impressive Soto has been since his big league debut on May 15, 2018:

• Soto is one of only three players with two 20-homer seasons before his 21st birthday. The others were Tony Conigliaro (1964-65) and former Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper (2012-13).

• Only two players have hit more home runs than Soto (50, entering Thursday) before their 21st birthday -- Mel Ott (61) and Conigliaro (56). Soto has a chance to pass both with a strong finish to the season.

• Soto is the only player in MLB history with multiple seasons of 20 homers and 70 RBIs before turning 21.

• Ott, Ken Griffey Jr. and Soto are the lone MLB players to have an RBI streak of seven games at 20 years or younger.

• Ott is the only player with five multihomer games before turning 21. Soto, Conigliaro and Harper each have four.

All the homers, hits and RBIs are impressive. But Soto has also shown great discipline at the plate. He's the only player in MLB history to have 10 three-walk games before turning 21.

"He's way above his years, really. He's very mature for his age. He understands the game," Martinez said. "He gets in the batter's box and he makes in-game, every-pitch adjustments, that's what makes him really good.

"When I saw him as a young kid -- even though he's young now -- he took his walks. He made sure the pitches were in the strike zone, and that's something that we preach to him all the time is, 'Hey, take your walks. You're really good. So continue to do that.'"

Soto remains humble when discussing how he has had consistent success early in his big league career. The reason for it? The effort he puts in off the field, in the batting cages and while watching video.

"That's the key, Soto said. "Everything comes through after the work."

While Soto is accomplishing feats unheard of for most 20-year-olds, he's also playing among a collection of young talent across the Majors. In the National League East alone, there are players such as 21-year-old Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and 24-year-old Mets slugger Pete Alonso, a candidate to win this year's NL Rookie of the Year Award.

Playing against those fellow youngsters excites Soto.

"We know we're going to be the future of the big leagues," Soto said. "All those guys playing hard and having fun, it's amazing."