This is not a tweet I expected to read in May of 2018.
It’s official. 19-year-old Juan Soto is a major leaguer. The Nationals have called him up from Class AA Harrisburg.— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) May 20, 2018
On the heels of their latest injury, the team is adding uber-prospect Juan Soto to the roster. It's unclear how much playing time he'll receive early on, but it's hard to imagine the team would be willing to start his service time clock and mess with his development track simply to sit him on the bench. He'll likely play, and make an impact on the team for as long as he's in D.C.
Let's not bury the lede, though. As you probably noticed in the tweet, Juan Soto is 19-years old. He was born in October of 1998, making him the youngest player in the majors, and bringing us one step closer to the first big-leaguer born in the 2000s.
This Juan Soto story is nuts.https://t.co/7bHEJK08fJ— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) May 20, 2018
He's the first MLB player to have been born after the following debuted in the Majors:
- The D-backs
- The (Devil) Rays
- Adrian Beltre
As incredible as it is for Soto to make the majors as a teenager (Bryce Harper and Time Raines are the only other teenagers to play in the majors in franchise history, which is pretty good company), what might be even more stunning is how quickly this came together for him.
This will already be Soto's fourth different level of professional baseball this season alone, having spent time with the low-A, high-A, and AA clubs so far. In his entire life, Soto has just 35 plate appearances above class-A, which is almost unheard of for a player getting promoted to the big league roster.
He's hit everywhere he's been, with his career OPS in the minors a whopping 1.043 (his lowest wRC+ at any level is 132), though it remains to be seen if his prodigious bat is ready for Major League pitching. Still, simply being in the majors at such a young age is a great sign for his future, especially considering he's almost a year younger than anyone else playing in the big leagues right now.
Youngest players in @MLB:#Nats J. Soto 10/25/98#Braves R. Acuña 12/18/97#Braves O. Albies 1/7/97#Yankees G. Torres 12/13/96#RedSox R. Devers 10/24/96#STLCards J. Hicks 9/6/96#Braves L. Gohara 7/31/96#Brewers F. Peralta 6/4/96#BlueJays Ureña 2/26/96#Mets Rosario 11/20/95— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 20, 2018
Not that anybody should put Hall of Fame expectations on a kid who hasn't even faced a pitch in the majors yet, but Soto's meteoric rise gives him a better chance than most at greatness. Just last month, when discussing the dynamic Braves duo of Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna, Hall of Fame-expert Jay Jaffe did some research on young stars making the big leagues, and the numbers are promising.
According to Baseball Reference (and we're just going to take their word for it), there have been 19,261 players in the history of Major League Baseball, and 226 of them have been elected to the Hall of Fame. That's a minuscule 1.1%.
But, of every player to ever record 100 plate appearances as a 19-year old (a number Soto should easily hit if he stays up all season), the number of players who eventually made the Hall of Fame jumps to 24%. If Soto is only up for a cup of coffee this year, and next year is when he's here to stay, you can move up the list to players who recorded 100 PA in their age-20 seasons, and the number is still 19%.
Plus, that percentage is likely to increase in the coming decades, as there are 18 active players to reach the benchmark, including future locks Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, and Mike Trout, and guys who are young but on the right track (Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Carlos Correa, and Giancarlo Stanton). Acuna, Albies, and Rafael Devers could find their way on the list one day as well. Considering only three of those names need to be enshrined in Cooperstown one day, it's safe to say that percentage is only growing.
reading the juan soto news pic.twitter.com/xmsl50taLD— NBC Sports Nationals (@NBCSNationals) May 20, 2018
That's a lot of stats that look nice for Soto and the Nationals, but obviously, we're at least a decade away from having a legitimate conversation about his Hall of Fame chances. Still, it highlights what we've known about him for quite some time. Juan Soto is a special, generational talent, and his rise to the big leagues as a teenager is worth writing home about.
What he's done so far is historic, and even if the move seems premature, it's plenty cause for excitement about the future of baseball in D.C.
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