John Baker on the comeback trail after Tommy John surgery

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John Baker was limited to just 23 games last season due to right forearm and elbow injuries and eventually underwent Tommy John surgery in September. Position players can usually bounce back from surgery more quickly than pitchers, but because Baker is a catcher, the Marlins aren’t going to push him too soon.

With that in mind, Marlins president Larry Beinfest said earlier this month that he would like Baker to be a left-handed bat off the bench until he is ready to  catch. Baker told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com today that he’s on board with the idea.

“In regards to being the lefty bat off the bench, I am all for it,” said Baker, who is doing his rehab work at his home in Northern California. “I just want to contribute to a winning team. I have a great example set by Wes Helms, and I will follow his lead throughout Spring Training and during the season. I am excited for the challenge of a new role.”

While Baker has only 108 plate appearances against southpaws in the big leagues, he has a .287/.368/.423 batting line and a 790 OPS against right-handed pitching. If healthy, he could outproduce the other current in-house candidates and available free agents.

Baker told Frisaro that he is currently hitting 75 flip tosses four times a week and plans to embark on a three-month throwing program in early January. Barring any setbacks, he expects to be ready for the start of the 2011 season.

Nationals promote 19-year-old prospect Juan Soto

SportsLogos.net
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The Nationals recalled 19-year-old outfield prospect Juan Soto from Double-A Harrisburg on Sunday, per a team announcement. Soto is poised to become the youngest player in the league once he makes his official debut with the club, and the Nationals’ first teenager to enter the majors since Bryce Harper made his first appearance back in 2012.

Entering the 2018 season, Soto was ranked no. 2 in the Nationals’ system and 15th overall. He’s certainly lived up to the hype during his first two years of pro ball, blazing through Single-A, High-A and Double-A levels in 2018 alone. While he logged just eight games at the Double-A level prior to his promotion to the majors, he proved consistent across all three levels this spring and slashed a cumulative .362/.462/.757 with 14 home runs and a 1.218 OPS in 182 plate appearances.

It’s not entirely clear how soon or in what capacity the Nationals will utilize their youngest player, but Soto’s tear through the minors is sure to pave the road for a few opportunities on the big-league level. He’ll be available off the bench for Sunday’s series finale against the Dodgers.