Davey Martinez ‘very confident’ in Juan Soto’s ability to play right field

Martinez ‘very confident’ in Soto’s capability to play ideal field initially appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Nationals prepare to make Juan Soto their daily right fielder for the 2021 season, changing him over from delegated include complimentary representative finalizing Kyle Schwarber.

Soto, 22, played the totality of his very first 2 seasons at the major-league level in left field prior to supervisor Davey Martinez evaluated him out in right for the last 6 video games of 2020. The Nationals provided him an opportunity to play the harder corner outfield position in order to be more versatile when signing a totally free representative outfielder to change Adam Eaton, whose group alternative was decreased in October.

That method showed convenient when Washington consented to a one-year, $10 million offer with Schwarber, a two-time 30-homer slugger whose protective restrictions have actually been well recorded. Together with very first baseman Josh Bell, the previous catcher is anticipated to offer the Nationals’ lineup a power component that it did not have last season. On defense, Washington will lean on Soto and Victor Robles to support its outfield after it accumulated -20 Defensive Runs Conserved in 2020, least in the National League.

On Sunday, Martinez took a seat for an interview with MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM and discussed how Soto leapt at the chance to cross the outfield.

“When I talked to him last year after Adam Eaton got hurt, I called him in my office and said, ‘Hey, how would you like to play some right field?’ He looked at me and said, ‘I love it. Let’s do it.’ So put him over there and he’s looked very comfortable,” Martinez stated. “He talked to me at the end of the year about possibly staying over there. He felt really good about it and I said, ‘Look, I’m all for it.’ We’ll keep working at it and I think he’s going to be a very good right fielder. As you know, he worked really hard to be a very good left fielder so I’m very confident that he’ll make the transition and do well there.”

As polished a player as Soto has actually been because he initially got into the majors, his defense has actually been a work in development. He had a hard time as a novice with -6 DRS while Statcast graded him out as a bad path runner whose preliminary burst of speed from his initial position conserved him from missing out on catchable balls. Soto then took an advance in 2019 and even completed as a Gold Glove finalist, though his large volume of innings in left field might have contributed because election.

Soto’s path running enhanced last season in spite of taking an action back with -8 DRS in left. He prevented making a mistake throughout the pandemic-shortened project and will want to reveal his Gold Glove finalist status in 2019 was no fluke with a complete season anticipated in 2021.

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In basic, Soto plays really deep in the outfield. Amongst all certified left fielders last season, he had the 10th-largest typical outfield depth at 300 feet. Soto likewise tends to hug the third-base line, a high-end managed to him by the existence of Robles in center. While the conservative method needs to assist him restrict errors in his brand-new position, it’s an area he a minimum of has some familiarity with entering into the year.

“In the short time that he was in the minor leagues that’s where he played, right field,” Martinez stated. “We’ve had conversations throughout his short career about moving. It’s funny because I always tell him during batting practice to just go out there and shag balls from center field and work on your jumps at center field. More balls are hit up the middle of the field during batting practice and work on your footwork and learn how to play all three positions. And he’s very good at doing that.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.