Braves announcer implies Nationals rookie phenom Juan Soto isn't actually 19 years old

Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto is having a whale of a rookie season.

Soto blasted a three-run home run on the very first MLB pitch he saw when he was called up in May and hasn’t looked back.

Through 66 games, Soto is hitting .310 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI while posting a .980 OPS. Not bad for a 19-year-old.

Joe Simpson not convinced Juan Soto is 19

He’s doing so well, in fact, that Atlanta Braves announcer Joe Simpson had the temerity to question whether Soto is, indeed 19 years old during the broadcast of Washington’s 8-3 win on Tuesday. Soto was in the midst of a game where he went 2-for-2 with a run, an RBI and three walks.

“If he’s 19, he has certainly got his man growth,” Simpson said. “He is big and strong.”

The implication is obvious, that Soto, a native of the Dominican Republic, has fudged his age for favorable status as a younger player.

Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan was quick to denounce Simpson’s implication, noting that age fraud is not a part of the modern game in Latin America.

The statement drew the ire of Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who told The Athletic that he had a word with Simpson after the game.

“I had a definite reaction,” Rizzo said. “I handled it face to face, privately with him. I believe he understood my stance on his comments.”

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Juan Soto's rookie year with the Nationals
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Juan Soto's rookie year with the Nationals
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 20: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals bats in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during his MLB debut at Nationals Park on May 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 20: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals sits in the dugout in the seventh inning during his MLB debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park on May 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 21: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals is doused with water after a 10-2 victory against the San Diego Padres at Nationals Park on May 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 20: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals strikes out swinging in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during his MLB debut at Nationals Park on May 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - MAY 22: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals looks on from the dugout prior to a game against the San Diego Padres at Nationals Park on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 22: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals runs to third base during a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Nationals Park on May 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. The Nationals won 2-1. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - JUNE 5: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals looks on during the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Nationals Park on Tuesday June 5, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 13: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals follows through on his seventh inning home run against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 13, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Nationals defeated the Yankees 5-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals celebrates hitting a two run home run in the sixth inning during game one of a doubleheader against the New Yankees at Nationals Park on June 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. Game one is the completion of a game that was suspended on May 15th due to rain. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 24: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals bats against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on June 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 07: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals doubles against the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning at Nationals Park on July 07, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 02: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals walks to the dugout during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Nationals Park on July 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals reacts after scoring a run during the game against the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 12, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 14: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals prepares for a game against the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 14, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Nationals 7-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 27: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals in the dugout before the start of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on July 27, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 01: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals of the Washington Nationals runs to third base against the New York Mets during the eighth inning at Nationals Park on August 01, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 07: Bryce Harper #34 and Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals celebrate after scoring on a double by Ryan Zimmerman #11 (not pictured) in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on August 7, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 07: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves during game two of a doubleheader at Nationals Park on August 7, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
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Simpson’s second recent brush with controversy

Just two weeks ago, Simpson was under fire for a bizarre minute-long rant during a Braves game with the Los Angeles Dodgers criticizing L.A. players for wearing T-shirts during batting practice. He called out Chase Utley specifically.

Simpson, from July 28:

“I want you to look at some things that were going on today in batting practice here with the Dodgers. What do you see? T-shirts. You see Chase Utley with no socks and pants up over his knees. This was prevalent with their whole team. And I think about fans that come to SunTrust Park who are Dodgers fans and want to see their players. They had no idea who any of them were.”

Beyond the absurdity of getting worked up over batting practice attire, it turns out that Utley was wearing a shirt raising awareness and money for cancer prevention as part of a collection designed for all 30 MLB teams.

Simpson has been manning Braves’ broadcasts since 1992. He should probably stick to calling games for a while.

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