The Yankees acquired outfielder Junior Soto in the minor league phase of the 2017 Rule 5 draft. The Bani, Dominican Republic native spent four seasons in the Indians organization after signing with them on July 2, 2013, for a $600,000 signing bonus.
Soto made his professional debut in 2014 with the Dominican Summer League Indians where he hit .221/.325/.288 over 58 games with five doubles, three triples, one homerun and 21 RBIs. July was his best month; he hit .270/.365/.382 in 23 games.
Soto made his states-side debut in 2015 when he was promoted to the Arizona League Indians. In the Rookie-level league, he hit .229/.256/.347 over 32 games and 118 at-bats. He hit nine doubles, a triple, and a homerun while driving in eight runs.
The 2016 season was Soto’s best season since turning pro. He repeated the Arizona League and hit .282/.319/.506 over 26 games for the Arizona League Indians with 11 doubles, a triple and two home runs while driving in 12.
Soto began to show the power he has in 2017 when he hit nine home runs for the Lake County Captains of the Midwest League. But it was also his worst season offensively when he hit .172/.208/.408 over 52 games.
Soto was assigned to the Staten Island Yankees to start his first season in the Yankees organization. He appeared in a career-high 61 games with the Yankees and hit .224/.258/.347 with 12 doubles, five home runs, and 27 RBIs.
Soto was a big money signing for the Indians back in 2013, at the time he was highly touted for the raw power he had shown in batting practice when he played in the Dominican Prospect League. The power did not show during his first three seasons when he hit just four home runs in 411 at-bats, compare that to 2017 when he had nine homers in 174 at-bats.
He is still a work in progress, needing to find patience at the plate, in his professional career he has struck out in over 26% of his at-bats, and that number jumped to 35% in 2017. In total he has struck out 155 times, compare that to just 45 walks n a four-year career.
Soto will likely return to the full season leagues in 2019 with the Charleston RiverDogs.