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What to expect from Soto with Nationals

MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Major League Baseball is set to welcome its new youngest player after it was reported late Saturday night that the Nationals would promote 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto from Double-A Harrisburg ahead of Sunday's series finale against the Dodgers.

Major League Baseball is set to welcome its new youngest player after it was reported late Saturday night that the Nationals would promote 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto from Double-A Harrisburg ahead of Sunday's series finale against the Dodgers.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

The Nationals' No. 2 and MLB's No. 15 overall prospect, Soto gets the call after Howie Kendrick suffered a ruptured Achilles, a season-ending injury, on Saturday, marking the latest in what has been a rash of injuries to Nationals outfielders. The club purchased Soto's contract on Sunday, officially adding him to the their 40-man roster.

Soto, at 19 years, 207 days, will be the second Nationals player (since 2005) to make his debut at the age of 19, joining Bryce Harper (19 years, 195 days). He's just the 10th player since 2001 to debut during his age-19 season.

Although injuries have helped to open the door for Soto, the young outfielder certainly has done his part by torching Minor League pitching across three levels en route to his third promotion in less than two months.

Video: Top Prospects: Juan Soto, OF, Nationals

At the time of his callup, Soto was Minor League Baseball's leader in home runs (tied-14), RBIs (52) and OPS (1.218). He also ranked second in extra-base hits (28) and slugging (.757), with an overall slash line of .362/.462/.757, and more walks (29) than strikeouts (28), in 39 games.

Amazingly, Soto has posted such gaudy numbers at every stage in his career since signing with the Nationals for $1.5 million as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015.

Making his pro debut the following year, Soto, 17 at the time, captured the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League MVP award after leading the circuit in both hitting (.361) and slugging (.550). He finished the season with Class A Short Season Auburn, hitting .368 between both stops to pace all Nationals farmhands.

An ankle injury followed by a broken hamate bone and then a late-season hamstring injury combined to limit Soto to just 32 games across two levels in 2017. He still managed to hit .351/.415/.505 overall, highlighted by a .360/.427/.523 batting line over 23 games with Class A Hagerstown.

Returning to the South Atlantic League in 2018, Soto slashed .373/.486/.814 with five home runs and 24 RBIs in 16 games to earn a promotion to Class A Advanced Potomac. He was even better in the Carolina League, hitting .371/.466/.790 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs in his first 15 games, and the Nationals rewarded Soto with a move up to Double-A on May 10.

Soto responded to the challenge by batting .323/.400/.581 with a pair of homers and 10 RBIs over eight games in the Eastern League despite being more than five years younger than the circuit's average player.

Aside from No. 2 overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays' No. 1), Soto might be baseball's best all-around offensive prospect. A gifted left-handed hitter, he employs a rhythmic swing that's both smooth and impactful, allowing Soto to consistently barrel the ball and generate hard contact from line to line.

He's long shown the ability to handle good velocity thanks to his combination of lightning-quick bat with elite barrel control, while his feel for recognizing and adjusting to spin fuels a highly advanced approach that's yielded a career .434 OBP, with 58 walks and 66 strikeouts, in 122 games.

Soto has good strength to his listed 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame, with remaining physical projection that suggests he'll offer plus game power once fully developed. He already took a step in that direction in 2018, hitting a career-best 14 homers in 39 games after totaling eight home runs in 83 games during 2016-17.

An average runner, Soto isn't a burner but moves well once underway and is lauded for his baserunning ability. The bulk of Soto's playing time defensively has come in right field, where he profiles as an average defender with average arm strength. And with Kendrick, Adam Eaton (ankle), Brian Goodwin (wrist) and top prospect Victor Robles (elbow) all sidelined with injuries, he could see time at both outfield corners in the Majors.

The Nationals believe Soto, despite his age and inexperience, is ready to make an impact at the highest level. Whether he carves out an everyday role with the club this season will be linked both to his production as well as the health of the aforementioned Nats outfielders, but there's little doubt that the 19-year-old Soto has the makings of a future middle-of-the-order batting champion who could compete for an MVP award in his prime.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Washington Nationals