I wondered yesterday why the Cardinals would demote Mitchell Boggs to Triple-A after he had one bad week following 95 innings of solid relief work, but now we know: He’s going to work as a starter.
Tony La Russa told Tom Krasovic of MLB.com that the idea is for Boggs to develop his secondary pitches while starting every fifth day at Triple-A, adding: “I expect him back this year and to play a major role.”
However, it sounds like that “major role” may still involve returning as a reliever, albeit a reliever with an improved changeup and off-speed stuff. Pitching coach Dave Duncan indicated that Boggs’ return date is undecided, as is his return role.
Still an odd move, but now at least it’s an odd move with some reasoning behind it beyond “he’s pitched poorly for the past week.” Boggs had a 3.66 ERA, .233 opponents’ batting average, and 19/4 K/BB ratio in 20 innings before the demotion.
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.