'Get ready for the show': Soto back for Derby

Nats slugger announces return after strong debut last year

July 13th, 2022

WASHINGTON -- After a T-Mobile Home Run Derby debut that included upsetting top-seeded Shohei Ohtani and pummeling a record-setting 520-foot blast last season, Juan Soto is ready to vie for the title on July 18 at Dodger Stadium.

As of Tuesday, Soto was slashing .243/.398/.473 with 17 home runs and an .871 OPS.

Here are five things to know about the slugging right fielder’s second consecutive appearance in the competition:

1. Soto captioned his Instagram post announcing his participation, “Get ready for the show.” He is looking forward to putting on a performance for spectators.

“Seeing how fans from all over the world [were] just enjoying my show [was my favorite part],” Soto said. “Not only the Nats fans, the whole MLB fans, they were enjoying what I was doing.”

2. Soto will receive pitches from Jorge Mejia, his hitting coach from Rookie-level ball. Since working in the Nationals' Minor League system, Mejia works with Soto during the offseason in the Dominican Republic.

“He knows a lot of me and he knows my swing pretty well, so I picked him to see what we can do up here,” Soto said.

3. After hammering a dinger 520 feet at Coors Field, Soto has a new personal goal in mind. Aside from winning the competition, he is eyeing a particular exit point for his homers.

“I was pretty lucky last year. I don’t know how far I can hit one, but I will see,” he said. “I’m going to try to hit the longest oppo homer of this Derby. … Everybody can pull the ball. Let’s see how far you hit the ball oppo.”

4. Having the opportunity to be around some of the most powerful hitters in the game, Soto would like to pick the brains of his competition. That includes watching and learning from the iconic Albert Pujols.

“I would love to see Albert hitting balls,” Soto said. “He was amazing when he was in his first Home Run Derby, and I want to see how fun it can be. It might be his last Home Run Derby.”

5. Soto faced off against and was eliminated by eventual champion Pete Alonso last season. Does he have any advice for fellow contestants who are looking to upset the back-to-back title holder?

“I don’t know, it’s just people are born to do things,” Soto said. “I think he’s just born for that. He’s a guy who loved it, and he’s got a lot of power. Not many players have more power than him, and he just loves it. I think he’s just born for that.”

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