García working at second base in anticipation of Abrams’ arrival

garcia throws @ MIA blue

PHILADELPHIA – A suspicion surrounding the Nationals was all but confirmed this afternoon by manager Davey Martinez.

Before the Nats took the field at Citizens Bank Park for the third game of this four-game set against the Phillies, Martinez met with the media in his office and said Luis García has been getting reps at second base in anticipation of C.J. Abrams’ arrival to the major league roster in the coming weeks. When Abrams does join the Nationals, it seems the plan is for the current shortstop to slide over to second base, fortifying the middle of the infield.

“He's already been over there taking ground balls just in case we do bring Abrams up here,” Martinez said of García. “So he's been taking ground balls over there. And all of our infielders have actually been taking ground balls throughout the infield now, so it's kind of nice. I want them to move around and just get used to taking ground balls in different positions.”

García hasn’t played second base in the majors this season yet, but he played there in 96 games over his first two years in the bigs. In 55 games at short this season, the 22-year-old has 11 errors. He committed eight errors in 59 games at second last year and five in 37 games in 2020.

Abrams, one of the top prospects the Nats acquired in Tuesday’s trade with the Padres for Juan Soto and Josh Bell, is highly touted for his defense. The 6-foot-2, 189-pounder was cited by Baseball America as the “best defensive infielder” (2021-22) and “best athlete” (2020-22) in San Diego’s minor league system. In 32 games at shortstop with the Padres this season, the 21-year-old only committed two errors.

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Game 109 lineups: Nats at Phillies

Patrick Corbin throw white wide

PHILADELPHIA – The Nationals need a win tonight to avoid losing their third straight series and fourth since the All-Star break.

With all the negatives surrounding Patrick Corbin over the past couple of seasons, the one thing you can say about him is that he takes the ball every fifth day. The results of those outings haven’t always been great, but he’s available and that’s what Davey Martinez needs from his veteran starter right now.

Over his first 22 starts, Corbin is 4-15 with a 6.57 ERA, the most losses and highest qualified earned run average in the majors. In his lone start against the Phillies this year, the left-hander was tagged for nine runs (only two earned) on eight hits, one walk and two homers in 3 ⅓ innings on June 16. Corbin is 6-6 with a 3.88 ERA in 16 starts against Philadelphia in his career.

In a matchup of lefty starting pitchers, Ranger Suárez takes the mound for the Phillies with a 7-5 record and 3.60 ERA. He earned the win in the first game of the June 17 doubleheader to kick off Ryan Zimmerman Weekend at Nats Park by giving up three runs and striking out five in 5 ⅔ innings. Suárez is 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in nine games (two starts) against the Nats over his five-year career.

Nelson Cruz is back in the lineup as the designated hitter after missing the last three games with a stiff neck. Luis García gets the day off against a left-hander.

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Nats will continue to search waiver wire for help this season and beyond

davey and rizzo sitting

PHILADELPHIA – With the worst record in the major leagues at 36-72, the Nationals are already looking ahead to these next two months of 2022 and the 2023 season.

It’s a difficult time of year for teams, like the Nationals, who chose to sell at the trade deadline. They traded away their best major league players for unproven prospects and journeyman veterans, as the Nats did with Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Ehire Adrianza.

But it’s also an interesting time of year for those teams to keep a close eye on the waiver wire. The teams that bought at the deadline, and to a lesser extent other teams that sold, sometimes have to make roster cuts at the big league level to make room for their newly acquired talent.

That’s where teams like the Nationals can bite.

A benefit of having the worst record in the majors is that the Nationals get first dibs on the waiver wire. Any player that becomes available has to go through Washington before any of the 29 other teams can make a claim. That gives the Nats an advantage on taking some chances on bounceback candidates who can help them over these last 54 games and possibly beyond.

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Gray crushed by longball, Nats avoid perfect game bid in loss

josiah gray upset blue

PHILADELPHIA – Josiah Gray came into his 20th start of the season tonight looking to rebound from a tough July and continue his success against the Phillies.

The right-hander posted a 6.75 ERA over five starts in July, capped off by allowing four runs in five innings Sunday against the Cardinals. He posted a 1.13 ERA in four June starts.

He also handled this Phillies lineup well the first two times facing it this season with ​​six shutout innings on June 18 and an 11-strikeout performance on July 6. 

Neither the rebound nor the Philly success presented itself tonight, as Gray was rocked by the Phillies en route to a 7-2 loss at Citizens Bank Park.

It started right from the get-go as Gray gave up three home runs in a single inning for the first time in his career. Rhys Hoskins, just as he did in his fist at-bat last night against Paolo Espino, hit the second offering from Gray (a 93 mph fastball up in the zone) for a solo home run to left field.

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Clippard starting rehab, Thompson improving, Strange-Gordon released

mason thompson pitches blue

PHILADELPHIA – As the Nationals get ready for the second game of this four-game set against the Phillies, manager Davey Martinez provided some updates down on the farm at Triple-A Rochester.

Tyler Clippard begins his rehab assignment tonight with the Red Wings. The 37-year-old reliever was placed on the 15-day injured list on July 22 (retroactive to July 19) with a groin strain.

“He's gonna go and get ready, pitch down some games,” Martinez said of Clippard. “The biggest thing for me is, as we always talk about, is back-to-back days. We want him to be able to pitch two innings like he did when he came up here. So we got to see him do that. I know we're kind of in a different position, but you never know when it comes to the bullpen help. We always want to keep guys and if he's pitching well.”

The right-hander only pitched in one game with the Nationals after finally getting the call from Rochester. He pitched two scoreless innings against the Braves on July 14, his first appearances as a National since 2014. Clippard made 33 appearances with the Red Wings this year, going 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA and 1.211 WHIP.

Once healthy, Martinez envisions Clippard helping out at the major league level again.

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Game 108 lineups: Nats at Phillies

josiah gray pitches blue

PHILADELPHIA – The weather forecasted for this weekend in the City of Brotherly Love isn’t so lovely. In typical late-summer fashion for the Mid-Atlantic region, it’s going to be hot, humid and overcast with chances of storms over the next couple of days. Here’s hoping we got the rain delay out of the way last night …

Josiah Gray makes his 20th start of the season tonight, bringing a 7-7 record and 4.59 ERA to the bump. The right-hander has had success against the Phillies this year while allowing just two runs in 12 innings, including six shutout innings on June 18 and an 11-strikeout performance on July 6. 

Right-hander Kyle Gibson will make his 21st start for the Phillies this year with a 6-4 record and 4.60 ERA. This will be his first start against the Nats since 2019. In his previous two career starts against Washington, Gibson allowed 13 runs (12 earned) over just 7 ⅔ innings.

Tonight’s game is only available on Apple TV+. Here’s a link to watch it for free with an Apple ID.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: Apple TV+
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, MLB.com
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 89 degrees, wind 8 mph out to right field 

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Getting to know Voit, Gore and Abrams

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PHILADELPHIA – Let’s play a little more “Get to Know You” with the new guys, shall we?

Luke Voit and MacKenzie Gore are the only two of the six-player return for Juan Soto and Josh Bell in Tuesday’s trade to join the Nationals so far. They each took separate red-eye flights Wednesday night to meet the team at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday afternoon.

They both met with the local media for an extended period of time, although they were at their respective lockers in the visitors' clubhouse instead of a formal press conference like the one rolled out for Soto and Bell in San Diego.

Yesterday, Voit and Gore talked about their experiences getting traded only a couple of days ago. It was the third time for the first baseman and the first time for the young left-hander. They also addressed what they expect to bring to the Nationals organization in terms of leadership and as a new top prospect.

But what about their actual play? What kind of players did the Nationals get and what can fans expect to see on the field?

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Rain delays inevitable as Nats can’t flex power in loss

victor robles hi five blue

PHILADELPHIA – This is the path the Nationals have chosen. There’s no going back.

Juan Soto and Josh Bell are Padres, taking their offensive prowess with them to the West Coast. What’s left is a more depleted lineup that often struggled even with the sluggers on their side.

Tuesday night’s improbable win against the Mets was a nice story. A small victory in an otherwise difficult day for the franchise.

But then reality set back in on Wednesday in the form of a 9-5 loss to the Mets that was only close because of the Nats’ five-run rally in the ninth.

And here we are again, this time at Citizens Bank Park in the opener of a four-game series against the Phillies. With Luke Voit and MacKenzie Gore (two of the six players the Nationals got back in the trade) joining the team in the clubhouse, another page in this new era of Washington baseball flipped. And the result was pretty much the same.

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Voit and Gore surprised by trade, but excited to join Nats

luke voit padres

PHILADELPHIA – The aftermath of the trade deadline is sometimes just as chaotic for players as the actual trades. Once the deals are done, players have to pack up their belongings, say their goodbyes and sometimes uproot their families to move to another city and get acclimated to a whole new clubhouse.

That was the case for Luke Voit and MacKenzie Gore, two of the six players the Nationals received for trading Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres on Tuesday. The pair not only had to deal with all of the logistics of being traded, but they also had to travel across the country (each by way of different red-eye flights) and meet their new team on the road in a different city.

Voit wasn’t the Nationals’ first choice as the veteran to be included in the trade. With the five prospects already agreed upon and Bell packaged with Soto, the Nationals originally sought veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer to fill the void at first base. But Hosmer exercised the no-trade clause in his contract as the Nationals were one of the 10 teams he would need to give permission to be traded to.

That didn’t derail the deal, however, as the Nats were satisfied in pivoting to Voit to complete the trade and Hosmer was sent to the Red Sox. Voit found out before the Padres’ unusual doubleheader at Petco Park against the Rockies on Tuesday.

“Obviously, a little bit surprising,” Voit said in front of his new locker with a No. 34 above it. “Obviously, you never know what can happen in this game. There was kind of a weird trade going on, with the no-trade clause with Hos. I obviously didn't expect to get traded and then right before our doubleheader, I found out like 10 minutes before the game. You know what, it's a fresh start. It's a lot of new faces. I'm excited about a new opportunity.”

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Game 107 lineups: Nats at Phillies

paolo espino pitches gray

PHILADELPHIA – The Nationals hit the road for the second half of this week-long stretch against divisional opponents. Tonight’s opener of a four-game series will be the first of 11 games remaining between the Nats and Phillies this season.

The Nats are 2-6 against the Phils through their first eight matchups and are 9-38 against the National League East.

Luke Voit and MacKenzie Gore, two of the six players received in Tuesday’s Juan Soto-Josh Bell trade with the Padres, are meeting the Nats in Philly today, with Voit making his first start with his new team. The veteran first baseman slashed .225/.317/.416 with a .733 OPS, 13 home runs and 48 RBIs in 344 plate appearances with the Padres.

Gore is on the 15-day injured list with left elbow inflammation. He will meet with the training staff and be examined by team doctors so they can formulate a rehab plan.

Paolo Espino makes his third start against the Phillies and second at Citizens Bank Park this season tonight. Espino is 0-3 with a 3.78 ERA this season and 0-3 with a 4.95 ERA in nine starts. He gave up four runs in 3 ⅔ innings in a start here on July 5.

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Trying to rationalize Soto trade after emotional day

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First of all, it’s OK for Nationals fans to be sad. No one would blame them if they were also downright mad.

There’s no other way to put it: Yesterday was a dark day for the Nationals franchise, this fan base and this city.

How else do you describe a day in which a team trades away perhaps its best player ever with 2 ½ more years of contractual control at the age of 23 before the prime of his career?

That’s what happened Tuesday when Nats general manager Mike Rizzo traded Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres for six players, including five highly touted prospects. An unprecedented move that sent shock waves through the baseball world and may end up being the biggest trade in the sport’s history.

Shock was indeed the initial reaction. How could the Nats do that? Why can’t they just re-sign Soto? Was the return good enough? Will it ever be good enough? How did we even get here?

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New-look Nats follow up Soto trade with win over Mets (updated)

meneses debut hr white

There’s no doubt today was a sad day for the Nationals. What most people thought would happen came to fruition in the form of an unprecedented trade of Juan Soto and Josh Bell the Padres for six players, five of whom are prospects.

Plenty more will be written and said about the franchise-altering decision to trade one of the best players to wear a Nationals jersey before the prime of his career.

But lost in the background of today’s news and the subsequent reactions was the reality that the Nationals still had to play a baseball game tonight. And not only were they suddenly without their two best players, they were facing Jacob deGrom, one of the best pitchers in the sport, in his season debut.

“I was relieved," manager Davey Martinez said of the passing of the trade deadline at 6 p.m. ET. "Yeah, I really was. I mean, I felt a different breath of fresh air. And for me, it was about regrouping and saying, 'All right, this is what we need to do moving forward.' So like I said, we're going to go out there and we're gonna compete and we're gonna play hard and we're gonna do some different things. And like I said, I was proud of the boys going out there today and doing what they did.”

After deGrom didn’t play a deciding role in the game while departing a tied game after five innings, the boys were able to take a late lead to win tonight’s game 5-1 in front of 29,878 mostly Mets fans at Nats Park. A small victory on a tough day.

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Nats make roster moves after mega trade with Padres

palacios blue jays

The big news of the day, of course, is Juan Soto and Josh Bell being dealt to the Padres in exchange for six players, including five top prospects. But the Nationals had to make other roster moves to both make room for incoming players and fill an active 26-man roster for tonight’s game against the Mets.

The flurry of moves: 

* Selected the contract of first baseman Joey Meneses from Triple-A Rochester
* Recalled outfielder Josh Palacios from Rochester
* Transferred left-hander Evan Lee to the 60-day injured list
* Designated left-hander Josh Rogers for assignment
* Optioned shortstop C.J. Abrams to Triple-A Rochester

Abrams, one of the top prospects coming to the Nationals organization in today’s trade, was the both the Padres’ No. 1 prospect and the No. 9 prospect in all of baseball entering this season, according to both Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com.

He made San Diego’s opening day roster and his major league debut this season, starting the second game of the season at shortstop. He hit .232 with five doubles, two home runs, 11 RBIs, four walks, one stolen base and 16 runs scored in 45 games across two major league stints with the Padres.

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Game 105 lineups: Nats vs. Mets

Yadiel Hernandez swing white

Well, tonight’s Nationals lineup is going to look a lot different. After reportedly trading their two best hitters, Juan Soto and Josh Bell, to the Padres for five prospects and possibly more, the Nats will trot out a starting lineup that no one could imagine just a couple of weeks ago.

Soto and Bell no longer man the heart of the order. Those spots are now filled by Yadiel Hernandez and Nelson Cruz as they face Mets ace Jacob deGrom in his season debut.

After suffering a stress reaction in his right scapula during spring training, deGrom brings his 9-4 record and 2.44 career ERA against the Nationals to South Capitol Street tonight.

On the mound for the Nationals is right-hander Cory Abbott, who makes his fourth appearance and first start for Washington. He has given up two hits, one run, one home run, one walk and six strikeouts in four innings over his previous three outings.

NEW YORK METS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB Network (outside of the D.C. and New York markets) MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, MLB.com
Weather: Mostly sunny, 87 degrees, wind 9 mph in from left field 

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Soto wins showdowns with Scherzer as Nats lose possible last game with star (updated)

juan soto standing white

Juan Soto is going to dominate the baseball news cycle for the next 20 hours leading up to Tuesday’s 6 p.m. trade deadline. If the Nationals end up trading the 23-year-old superstar, he’s going to be the biggest player acquired at this year’s deadline and possibly ever.

But for at least one more night, Soto was hitting third in manager Davey Martinez’s starting lineup, playing right field and wearing “Nationals” across his chest. And if this is the last time that will be the case, he gave Nats fans one last classic Juan Soto performance.

Facing old friend Max Scherzer in his first three plate appearances, Soto went 1-for-1 with a 421-foot home run and two walks, albeit in an eventual 7-3 loss to the Mets. He finished the night 1-for-1 with the homer, three walks, two runs scored and a stolen base in front of a crowd of 29,034 who were either rooting for him to stay in D.C. or rooting for him to go to New York.

“For me, I'm playing for the Nationals right now. I haven't heard anything yet. So for me, just another game that I play,” Soto said during a lengthy postgame meeting with the media.

In their first matchup in the bottom of the first inning, Soto was able to run the count full and draw a six-pitch walk. When Josh Bell, also still in the Nats lineup tonight, doubled down the right-field line, Soto advanced to third. But Mets right fielder Starling Marte threw the ball to second base with no one there, allowing both runners to advance and giving the Nats a quick 1-0 lead on Scherzer.

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Martinez on Adrianza trade, Harris return and selecting Vargas

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And here. We. Go.

With the trade deadline about 24 hours away, the baseball world is already abuzz with moves and even more rumors. The Nationals, who figure to play a major role in this year’s deadline, have already gotten the ball rolling, making their first of the numerous trades expected over these next two days.

This afternoon the Nationals traded utility player Ehire Adrianza to the Braves, for whom he played last year, in exchange for 26-year-old outfielder Trey Harris. Adrianza signed a one-year contract with the Nats in March but had his season delayed due to a quadriceps strain during the last week of spring training.

After finally joining the big league club, the 32-year-old played a variety of roles for manager Davey Martinez, appearing at second base, third base, shortstop and left field over 31 games. Adrianza hit .179 with two doubles, seven RBIs, one stolen base and five runs scored with the Nats.

“I talked to Ehire. He gets an opportunity to go back to where he was from and go help them,” Martinez said during his pregame press conference. “And they're in the playoff run, so I'm excited for him that he gets to go back there. I wish I would have seen more of Ehire here because I know the kind of player that he is. He got off to a slow start, and I really believe it's because he was injured. You know, he had a bad injury with the quad and he really couldn't get going. But I loved having him. He was a constant professional. I know I could count on him going out there and doing whatever I asked him to do, no matter what. So I wished him all the best. And I told him, I said, ‘Maybe we'll cross paths again here one day soon.’”

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Game 104 lineups: Nats vs. Mets

robles hr home blue

With the trade deadline just over 24 hours away, I wouldn’t blame you if you immediately scrolled down in search of three names in the Nationals lineup: Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Nelson Cruz.

Well, for now, all three are in Davey Martinez’s starting lineup. Keep an eye out for late scratches and in-game replacements. It’s that time of year.

Ehire Adrianza was the first trade chip to fall with today’s announcement that he was traded to the Braves in exchange for 26-year-old outfielder Trey Harris. The Nats seemed to be showcasing him with increased playing time lately, and he heads back to the Braves to provide utility help in their postseason run. Maikel Franco returns as the starting third baseman.

We can be almost certain that Patrick Corbin isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so he’ll be ready to make his 22nd start of the season. At 4-14, the left-hander is looking to stay out of the loss column, as he is on pace to become the major leagues’ first 20-loss pitcher in two decades. He was charged with six runs on seven hits and a walk while only recording two outs in a loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday.

Corbin is 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA in three starts against the Mets this year.

Max Scherzer makes his second start against his former club tonight, both coming at Nationals Park. He gave up three runs and struck out six over six innings while earning the win in the second game of the season on April 8. Scherzer is 6-2 with a 2.09 ERA on the year, and 1-1 with a 1.39 ERA in his five starts since returning from a strained left oblique muscle that kept him sidelined in June.

The Nationals also are hoping to start August on a better note than they finished on during a 6-19 July, just “good” enough to avoid the worst month in club history.

NEW YORK METS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, MLB.com
Weather: Sunny, 85 degrees, wind 7 mph out to left-center field

NATIONALS
CF Victor Robles
2B César Hernández
RF Juan Soto
1B Josh Bell

LF Yadiel Hernandez
DH Nelson Cruz
SS Luis García
C Keibert Ruiz
3B Maikel Franco

LHP Patrick Corbin

METS
CF Brandon Nimmo
RF Starling Marte
SS Francisco Lindor
1B Pete Alonso
DH J.D. Davis
LF Mark Canha
3B Eduardo Escobar
2B Jeff McNeil
C Tomás Nido

RHP Max Scherzer

Rizzo says Soto leak didn't come from Nats, team “will explore all our options”

rizzo media

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo made his first public comments about the reports that Juan Soto rejected the Nats’ latest contract offer and the organization will now entertain trading the superstar before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. deadline.

Rizzo, making his weekly appearance this morning on 106.7 The Fan’s “The Sports Junkies,” addressed everything from the team’s negotiations with Soto to his relationship with super agent Scott Boras to the organization’s ownership situation.

Last week, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that Soto rejected a 15-year, $440 million offer from the Nationals and that the team will now entertain trading him before this year’s deadline. On the day of the report, Soto said he was upset that the details of the contract offer became public, and public opinion pointed the finger at the team.

“Leaks are just so difficult,” Rizzo said. “In this age of social media, who knows where some of these things come from? But all I can tell you, it unequivocally did not come from me for sure, 100 percent for sure, or from our front office. That much I know for sure. We had this information three weeks before it leaked out, so we had ample time to leak it out if we wanted to leak it out. … They never ever help a situation. It was disappointing to me, I was upset about it. And it's something that I'd just like to know who leaked it out just to have that information and make sure it didn't come from anybody in baseball operations.”

Rizzo doubled down that the Nationals were not the ones to leak the contract offer details, stating that doing so would not have benefitted the club in any aspect.

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Draft tracker: Nats make final picks of 2022 draft (final update)

draft platform 2022

The 2022 MLB Draft concludes today before tonight’s All-Star Game. The Nationals have 10 picks this afternoon, one in each of the remaining rounds.

Through the first 10 rounds, the Nats drafted two third basemen, one shortstop, three outfielders, one catcher, two right-handers and one left-hander. They selected three high school players, highlighted by 18-year-old outfielder Elijah Green out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., with the No. 5 overall pick Sunday night, and seven players from the college ranks.

“There's gonna be some kids out there that maybe got their feelings hurt a little bit,” assistant general manager and vice president of scouting operations Kris Kline said on Zoom call with reporters at the conclusion of yesterday’s selections. “Maybe you want to circle back and they may really want to play. So we'll go back and talk to them about, you know, the guys that said no, we'll go back and talk to all of them that said no, and ask them where they stand, how they feel now. And put the board together to the best of our ability. But that being said, I thought this first two days of the draft was really, really good. A really positive thing for the organization that's kind of in a rebuilding process. Guys did a great job.”

With their first pick of the day, the Nats selected right-hander Luke Young out of Midland College in Texas with the 321st overall pick in the 11th round. He’s listed as 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds.

A reliever for Midland, the 20-year-old went 9-4 with a 3.95 ERA, 110 strikeouts, 27 walks and only three home runs allowed over 79 ⅔ innings this year.

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With trade talk heating up, Soto wins Home Run Derby

soto celebrates derby win

It was Juan Soto’s chance for redemption. After falling to eventual repeat champion Pete Alonso in the semifinals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Coors Field, this year’s event gave the Nationals slugger the chance to be a part of a star-studded field and win it all.

It’s hard to deny Soto twice. And with the eyes of the sporting world focused on Hollywood (including super agent Scott Boras sitting in the front row behind home plate), one of the game’s biggest stars stood on top of it all in more ways than one.

Soto won the 2022 Home Run Derby tonight at Dodger Stadium, beating Mariners rookie Julio Rodríguez 19-18 in the finals. Soto joins Bryce Harper, who beat Kyle Schwarber in an electric finale in 2018 at Nationals Park, as the only Nats players to win the Home Run Derby.

“It feels amazing,” Soto said on the broadcast after the win. “All of the hard work I put in and everything. It just feels amazing.”

After hitting the clinching home run, Soto launched his bat in the air in celebration and was mobbed by his father, Juan Sr., and brother, Elian, other Dominican players from across the major leagues, and Nationals manager Davey Martinez, who joined Soto this week as part of the National League coaching staff.

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