Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Rising star Juan Soto praises God while leading Washington Nationals in World Series

Some people call him the “Childish Bambino.” Some say he’s the best under-21 hitter in Major League Baseball history. After Game 1 of the 2019 World Series on Tuesday night, a lot more people now know his given name: Juan Soto.

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He’s a 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic, serving as the Washington Nationals’ left fielder and clean-up hitter. He hit .282 in 150 games this season, his second in the majors, collecting 34 home runs and 110 RBIs — all really good numbers. And his first appearance in the World Series was one for the ages — 3-for-4 hitting, one home run, one double, three RBIs. All three of his runs were driven in off Houston Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole, widely considered to be the best pitcher in baseball.

Riding Soto’s bat, the Nationals won Game 1 in Houston, 5-4. Game 2 is Wednesday at 8:07 p.m. ET.

When the teams play in Washington for Game 3 — the first World Series game ever at Nationals Park — they’ll do so as Soto turns 21. That’s one of the best birthday presents a young ballplayer could ask for — and apparently something Soto’s father told him would happen years ago. “My dad told me when I was 10 years old, he told me, ‘You’re going to play baseball on your birthday. You’re going to play in the World Series,'” Soto told NBC Sports Washington.

Even more incredible, that home run Soto hit on Tuesday was also predicted. According to FOX’s Tom Verducci, via NBC Sports Washington, Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long told him before the game that Soto would hit a home run off Cole, and said it would come off a high fastball.

And not only can Soto hit, he’s the type of guy “you’d want to marry your daughter,” according to Nationals Vice President of International Operations Johnny DiPuglia.

“It’s a blessing from God, to be here in the big leagues and play baseball like I have,” Soto told reporters on Monday. “I never thought I’d be this talented of a player.”

As his game and fame rise, Soto aims to remain humble by focusing on God. He points to the sky after big hits, such as when he homered off the Dodgers to tie the score in the eighth inning of Game 5 of the NLDS, which Washington would win in 10 innings to advance to the NLCS:

Translated to English, the caption reads, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:10.”

After winning the National League pennant, Soto posted a photo of him with the trophy and said, “For you my God be the glory” (translated).

Washington will need its young slugger to keep hitting if it’s going to upset the favored Astros for the first World Series championship in Nationals history.

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