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Nationals promote Juan Soto to Double-A

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High-A sojourn lasted just two weeks. Is he a top five prospect?

Clinton Riddle, SB Nation/Vox Media

Back on April 23rd the Washington Nationals promoted outfield prospect Juan Soto from Low-A Hagerstown to High-A Potomac. At the time we predicted that Soto would be in Double-A by August.

Technically, that came true. Today, May 10th, is before August. It wasn’t really a great prediction though, because May 10th is also well before June and July and Juan Soto was promoted to Double-A this morning.

Soto has been a beast all year: .373/.486/.814 in Low-A, then a very similar .371/.466/.790 in High-A. He’s hitting a combined .372/.476/.802 with a stellar 25/21 BB/K in 121 at-bats. His strike zone management skills didn’t slip at all against better pitching and he continued to rip for both power and average.

One must give credit to the Nationals here, as they rightly concluded that Soto had nothing to learn in High-A and they decided not to hold him back based on a pre-determined timeline.

I am working on a revision to my Top Prospects list. I am frequently asked how high Soto will move on the next version, if he’ll get into the Top Ten.

The question now isn’t if he is in the Top Ten. The question should be if he is in the Top Five.

Pre-season my Top Ten looked like this:

1) Ronald Acuña, OF, Braves
2) Vladimir Guerrero, Jr, 3B, Blue Jays
3) Shohei Ohtani, RHP, Angels
4) Fernando Tatis, Jr, SS, Padres
5) Bo Bichette, SS, Blue Jays
6) Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds
7) Gleyber Torres, INF, Yankees
8) Forrest Whitley, RHP, Astros
9) Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox
10) Victor Robles, OF, Nationals

Acuña, Guerrero Jr, and Ohtani would all still rank ahead of Soto. Gleyber is hitting well in the majors so far and I think he should still rank ahead.

Whitley is on the restricted list and Robles is on the disabled list; we can move Soto ahead of them safely.

Jimenez got a late start to the season but is currently hitting .346/.375/.704 in Double-A. Bichette and Senzel are holding their own in Double-A and Triple-A respectively. Tatis got off to a slow start but has made adjustments and has hit quite well over the last 10 days.

I would say that the stock hasn’t really dropped for Jimenez, Bichette, Senzel, or Tatis. But has Soto done enough to move ahead of them on his own terms?

Let’s look at this another way.

Barring a catastrophic injury to someone in the next few weeks, Acuña, Ohtani, and Torres will all come off the list as they move past rookie qualifications later this summer. If we remove them preemptively, that gives us Vlad Jr. at the top, which is exactly where he should be, then followed by Tatis, Bichette, Senzel, and Jimenez.

Where should Soto slot among that group? Keeping in mind that none of those four guys have dropped in my estimation.

If Soto continues to hit in Double-A, and I think he will, he would rank ahead of Bichette, Senzel, and Jimenez for me. It would come down to Tatis vs. Soto for the number two slot behind Vlad Jr, with the list looking something like this:

Vlad Jr
Soto/Tatis
Jimenez
Bichette
Senzel

Bottom line: Soto is certainly a Top Ten prospect at the moment, and waiting for Acuña, Ohtani, and Torres to graduate off the list is the only thing keeping Soto out of the Top Five right now.