2018 has been a glorious year of baseball, we’ve seen everything so far. More importantly there have been many refutes to the claim that “baseball is a dying sport”. This piece follows the incredible young talents of Dominican star Juan Soto and Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr.
Juan José Soto Pacheco
Juan gained considerable spotlight at the beginning of the season when he became the youngest player in the Major Leagues at 19 years and 207 days, including the accolade of being the only player born in ‘98 to feature in a Major League ballgame.
Soto did not rest on his laurels and immediately lived up to the hype.
In his first start in the Majors, Soto nailed a homer to left field against the San Diego Padres. He went on to accumulate another 2 at Yankee Stadium. The first was an electric three-run home run which gave his team the lead. Then, at the top of the 7th, he nailed his second home run making him the youngest to do so since Ken Griffey Jr.
Since then, Juan Soto’s stat line looks incredible for his age (.291 BA, .411 OBP, .524 SLG.). Furthermore, he has also struck 15 homers, as well as racking up 44 RBI’s.
This early into his young career many have hailed him as the next big hitter in the Major Leagues. However, he has notable competition in that department.
Your NL Rookie of the Year race is on.
— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) August 19, 2018
Ronald Acuña Jr.
Ronald Acuña Jr comes from a baseball family. His father and grandfather both played Minor League Baseball and an uncle of his, José Escobar, featured for the Cleveland Indians in 1991 for a short time. In addition, he has several cousins who also featured on a Major League side.
Finally, it was his chance and he took it.
Acuña Jr. opened his home run account against the Reds, nailing a pitch from Homer Bailey. Acuña returned from a minor injury early in the year and once again hit well. He embarked on a six-game homer streak before being hit by Jose Ureña’s first pitch. That’s a topic for another day.
Acuña Jr. sas notched one more homer than Soto with a tally of 19 and he has one RBI fewer (43). He still boats a fantastic slash line of: .295 BA, .389 OBP, .575 SLG.
‘El Abusador’, as he is known, is a strong contender for National League Rookie of the Year, but will he emerge victorious?
Close run thing
The contest for the ROTY crown is ongoing. With both youngsters neck and neck, the question will not be answered for some time. For me, I think Acuña Jr will take the award, especially if the Braves can clinch a playoff place.
This pair of talented outfielders might be fighting each other for awards for years to come. For all the negativity around the sport, Soto and Acuna give a reason to be positive.