Both Juan Soto and Victor Robles were vital pieces to the 2019 Washington Nationals team that finished the season hoisting the Commissioner's Trophy as World Series champions.
Johnny DiPuglia -- the man who is largely responsible for both of the Nationals young, star outfielders in D.C. -- was named the International Scout of the Year, Major Leauge Baseball announced on Monday.
Earlier this month, he was promoted to assistant general manager in charge of international operations. He had previously served as the Nationals vice president of international scouting.
Another Nationals front office update: Johnny DiPuglia has been promoted to assistant general manager in charge of international operations. That’s what precipitated some of the international staff changes mentioned earlier.— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) December 5, 2019
The Nationals acquired both Soto and Robles as international free agents, rather than through the annual June Amateur Draft. When the Nationals signed Soto, it was the most they had spent on any international free agent in team history.
DiPuglia scouted Soto when he was just 15 years old, and Washington signed him a year later for $1.5 million in 2015.
In an interview with NBC Sports Washington earlier this year, DiPuglia admitted not even he could have predicted Soto's rise to stardom so quickly.
"[Nationals field coordinator] Tommy Shields is a guy that I talk to quite a bit. He loved the kid," DiPuglia told NBC Sports Washington. "He kept telling me 'this kid is gonna be special.' I had an inkling that he was, but you keep hearing it from [people]. I kept seeing the maturation process speed up. This kid was just unbelievable at the plate."
Soto just turned 21 during the World Series, but already has two big league seasons with a .900-plus OPS under his belt. In 2019, he posted a slash mark of .282/.401/.548 with 34 home runs and 110 RBI.
Robles signed with the Nationals in 2013 and has been in the organization since. He made his MLB debut in 2017, but the 2019 season with his first full year in the big leagues. Robles slashed 255/.326/.419 with 17 home runs and 65 RBI in 2019 while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense in centerfield.
Soto and Robles are two of the most important components of the future of the Nationals organization. After their stellar 2019 campaigns, DiPuglia, the man who orchestrated it all, is deserving of the award.
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