Nationals' 19-year-old OF Juan Soto starts, homers in first at-bat

WASHINGTON --? Juan Soto just keeps hitting home runs.

Making his first start for the? Washington Nationals?on Monday, the 19-year-old outfielder went deep in his first at-bat against? San Diego Padres?starter Robbie Erlin. The three-run, opposite-field shot came on the first pitch from Erlin and traveled an estimated 422 feet before landing over the wall in left-center.

Upon returning to the dugout, Soto received a curtain call from the crowd at Nationals Park.

Before getting called up this past weekend, Soto was hitting .362 with 14 homers in 39 minor league games across three levels. Despite those numbers, his promotion came as a surprise, given that he had only 31 at-bats above Class A. But after utility man Howie Kendrick tore his Achilles on Saturday, the latest in a rash of injuries that has severely depleted Washington's outfield options, Soto got the call, making him the youngest player currently in the majors.

Besides Kendrick, the Nationals have dealt with injuries to starting left fielder Adam Eaton (ankle), reserve outfielder Brian Goodwin (wrist) and outfield prospects Victor Robles (elbow) and Rafael Bautista (knee).

At 19 years, 208 days old, Soto became the youngest big leaguer to hit a home run since the? Texas Rangers'? Jurickson Profar homered on Sept. 2, 2012. At the time, Profar was 19 years, 195 days old. Soto is also the youngest player in Nationals/Expos franchise history to hit a home run.

Soto's first major league at-bat came Sunday, when he struck out as a pinch hitter against? Los Angeles Dodgers?reliever Erik Goeddel. After homering in the second inning Monday, Soto, who started in left field and batted sixth, added a sixth-inning single and scored on a Michael Taylor triple.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Soto signed with Washington in 2015 for a reported $1.5 million. Entering the 2018 season, he was ranked as the Nationals' second-best prospect and No. 42 overall by ESPN's Keith Law.