4 – Juan Soto hits his first home run in his first start
He wasn’t supposed to be this good, this soon, but Juan Soto doesn’t care about that narrative. In his first career start for the Washington Nationals, they knew they had a star on their hands.
The day before, Soto struck out in a pinch-hitting appearance as they attempted to shield him from a tough lefty in his first start. Then the next day against Robbie Erlin, he announced his arrival with aplomb, and wouldn’t be shielded against tough lefties again.
It had been a whirlwind beginning of the year for Soto, who was with the Single-A Hagerstown Suns just a month before. Then a meteoric rise peaked after Howie Kendrick tore his Achilles, forcing the young Dominican into major league action.
The rookie showed absolutely no fear at the plate, as he drove the first pitch he saw the other way for a towering home run. It was the first of many for the youngster as the opposite-field home run has now become his specialty.
For the fans in the stadium, it felt like a star had been born after hearing about this kid tear up the minor leagues to start the year. And as we all saw from his play the rest of the way, he’s going to be in the heart of this lineup for years to come.
He ended up putting together a compelling Rookie of the Year campaign in 2018. He slashed .292/.406/.517 with 22 home runs and 70 RBI as he battles with Ronald Acuña Jr. for rookie honors.