3. Juan Soto, of
Born: Oct. 25, 1998. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 185. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015. Signed by: Modesto Ulloa.
Background: The Nationals established a new franchise bonus record for an international teen when they signed Soto for $1.5 million in 2015. He skipped the Dominican Summer League in 2016 to make his pro debut as a 17-year-old in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, where he won MVP honors after leading the circuit in batting (.361) and slugging (.550) and ranking second in on-base percentage (.410). He earned a late-season promotion to short-season Auburn and continued to succeed against older competition.
Scouting Report: Soto ranked No. 13 in the 2015 international class largely because of his hitting ability, which translated well to pro ball. He is an advanced hitter for his age, showing a feel for the barrel and good pitch-recognition skills. He has a short, easy, lefthanded swing and uses the whole field to hit. His power is still developing, and he could have above-average pop by the time he is done physically maturing. Soto has average speed and arm strength, and he profiles well in right field.
The Future: Soto will play the entire 2017 season as an 18-year-old, and is probably advanced enough to handle an assignment to low Class A Hagerstown. But the Nationals could opt for a more conservative approach and send him back to Auburn, where he would still be one of the youngest players in the league.
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