Soto as advertised in first taste of Class A

Nats prospect slugs solo homer on three-hit night for Suns

Juan Soto has a .381 career batting average in 57 games across three Minor League levels. (Patrick Cavey/MiLB.com)

By Gerard Gilberto / MiLB.com | April 12, 2017 11:00 PM ET

In less than a year, Juan Soto has gone from Rookie-level ball to leading the South Atlantic League in batting average (.464), hits (13) and runs scored (8).

On Wednesday, the Nationals' third-ranked prospect went 3-for-5 with a solo homer and pair of RBI singles in Class A Hagerstown's 10-2 win over Lakewood at Municipal Stadium.


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The 18-year-old outfielder has hit safely in all but one of the seven contests he's played this season. He's had multiple hits four times during a five-game hitting streak, with Wednesday representing his second three-hit effort. Soto also walked and scored the winning run on Sheldon Neuse's double in the Suns' 15-inning victory on Tuesday.

"Obviously at 18 years old, he's going to have his ups and downs," Hagerstown manager Patrick Anderson said. "He's started out pretty decent so far. We're looking for good things. He is doing a great job here so far and we've still got a long season to go."

The left-handed hitter homered off BlueClaws southpaw Jonathan Hennigan leading off the bottom of the sixth to lift the Suns into a 2-2 tie. Soto is 5-for-12 against lefties this season and boasts a .343 lifetime average against southpaws.

"He's got a little bit of everything, to be honest with you. He can hit for average and power," Anderson said. "He's done a good job handling left handed pitchers -- he's faced a few of those guys so far. His approach as a whole is very mature."

Soto came to the plate with two men on in the seventh and the bases loaded in the eighth and produced RBI singles both times. Anderson noted how comfortable the highly touted prospect was at the plate in all situations, adding that his success is not all that surprising. 

"The confidence level that this man has is just pretty good. He's very even-keeled for everything," Anderson said. "It's just impressive that we get to sit back and watch this young man play and mature."

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Much like his eye-popping numbers at the plate, a simple approach has followed Soto through his 57-game career.

"He has his routine from Spring Training, so I go to continue his process through to get better and better every day," Suns hitting coach Amaury Garcia said. "He likes to hit off the tee and use the side toss and the front toss. That's the routine he does every day. He's a smart guy, he knows what he wants."

Last season, Soto was named Gulf Coast League MVP after leading the circuit with a .361 average in 45 games, adding five homers and 31 RBIs. He made the most of a six-game promotion to Class A Short Season Auburn at the end of the summer, picking up nine hits in 21 at-bats.

Nick Banks also went 3-for-5 and drove in three runs for Hagerstown, two on his first homer of the season in a seven-run eighth.

Daniel Brito, the Phillies' No. 19 prospect, homered, singled and had a pair of RBIs for Lakewood.

Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @GerardGilberto4. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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