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Nationals roster review: Aaron Barrett

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Nationals roster review: Aaron Barrett

Age on Opening Day 2016: 28

How acquired: 9th round pick, 2010 draft

MLB service time: 1 year, 144 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $514,200

Contract status: Likely arbitration-eligible (Super-2) in 2017, free agent in 2021

2015 stats: 40 G, 29.1 IP, 28 H, 15 R, 15 ER, 1 HR, 7 BB, 35 K, 1.193 WHIP, 3-3, 4.60 ERA, 2.21 FIP, 0.0 WAR

Quotable: "It stinks, obviously. But I know the return rate is good. I was in good care with Dr. Andrews, and I know that I'm going to come back even stronger." — Aaron Barrett

2015 analysis: On the heels of an eye-opening rookie season, Barrett figured to hold a prominent role near the back end of the Nationals' bullpen. But as was true of most members of that group, he never found a groove and couldn't solidify his key role.

Barrett actually pitched better than the numbers suggested, though. Despite a hefty 4.60 ERA, he cut his walk rate in half from his rookie season (from 4.4 per 9 innings to 2.1 per 9 innings) while continuing to strike out batters at a good pace (10.7 per 9 innings).

Turns out his problem was physical. Barrett ultimately admitted he was pitching in pain most of the season. He landed on the DL in June with a biceps strain, then finally spoke up in August after being told he was being demoted to Class AAA Syracuse. An MRI revealed a torn elbow ligament, bone chips and a bone spur. He underwent Tommy John surgery and now faces a long road back from the injury.

2016 outlook: Barrett won't figure into the Nationals' plans for the majority of the season. It's possible he won't even return to pitch at all in 2016, if his timeline for recovery falls around the latter stages of the typical 12-to-18 month prognosis.

The track record for full recovery from Tommy John surgery is strong, and certainly the Nationals have guided many pitchers through the process. But it will be long, tedious road for Barrett, who probably won't begin playing catch until shortly before spring training and won't throw off a mound until the rest of his teammates have returned north for Opening Day.

If all goes well, Barrett could go on a rehab assignment next summer and then possible rejoin the Nationals' rotation in August or September. How effective he is, and what role the club gives him at that point, remains to be seen.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.