A drug suspension in 2010 and a lousy 2011 caused Steven Souza‘s star to fall in the Nationals’ system. He entered 2013 as the No. 25 prospect in a less-than-loaded organization.
But he rebounded with an impressive 2013 to enter the Nats’ top 10 prospects list and has continued to rake in 2014, posting one of the most impressive slash lines (.365/.463/.571) in the minors.
He was called up briefly in the wake of Bryce Harper‘s injury and went 1-for-8 before returning to Syracuse.
Souza’s been in the Nats’ system since signing as a third-rounder out of high school in 2007 and is already 25. He also faces a daunting task of trying to crack Washington’s crowded outfield, which has only become more crowded with the move of Ryan Zimmerman off third base.
Souza does play in a park that slightly inflates offense, but his splits are equaninmous and the righthanded hitter is crushing lefties and righties, albeit with far fewer plate appearances against lefties and far more strikeouts against righthanders.
On the 20-80 scouting scale, Souza has plus raw power with the ability to hit the ball out in any field. He can catch up to premium velocity, but his swing is longer than ideal, which may affect his ability to hit for average at the big league level, even if that hasn’t been apparent in Triple-A this year. Because of his swing, he has to get his hands started quicker than hitters with a purer swing. The former third baseman has found a home in right and is a solid-average defender out there with a plus arm. He’s played center and left at times this year, but he’s defensively challenged in center.
Souza has been a prolific basestealer throughout his minor league career, but it’s not a sure bet that those steals will transfer over to the big league level because he has only average speed. He’ll swipe the occasional base, but don’t expect him to ever be an impact basestealer on a big league club.
WHAT TO EXPECT
There is no clear everyday job for Souza in Washington any time soon, especially with Harper slated to return in July. But if he ever gets defined playing time, Souza is a power threat who can steal a base every now and then. While he’s unlikely to match the .365 average he’s produced this year in Triple-A, he’s steadily improved his hitting ability to the point where he could post league average batting average and on-base percentages. Given the right opportunity, he could still be a useful fantasy pickup.