Batter of the Week - Steven Souza, 3B, Hagerstown
When the Nationals drafted Souza with their third round pick in 2007, they probably didn't think he would be hitting .222/.317/.328 over his first three professional seasons. But like a lot of high school picks, the selection was made based on potential. Souza's skillset and size (6'4, 195 pounds) led many to believe that he would eventually turn into a middle of the lineup type of hitter. Souza is finally living up to some of that potential this season.
At 21 years old and in his second season at Hagerstown, Souza is hitting .287/.368/.530. He has eight doubles, four triples, and four home runs and is finally starting to show some of that power that those who drafted him believed he would develop. In seven games last week (one as a pinch hitter), he had four multi-hit games, finishing the week 9 for 23 (.391).
In Sunday's game against Augusta, he came up to the plate as a pinch hitter with runners on second and third and the game tied. He came through with a deep fly ball to center field that scored the winning run, and in a way demonstrated his improvements this season. For his career with RISP, he had been a .232 hitter, but this season he is hitting .353 in the same situations. He leads Hagerstown in triples, home runs, total bases, slugging %, and OPS. He has been batting third for the Suns for most of the season and has been thriving in the role. Two issues still remain in his game though. First, his patience at the plate is still a work in progress. He has 35 strikeouts to only 12 walks, but has still managed to maintain a .368 OBP.
The other issue is where he fits in on the field in the long term. Formerly a shortstop, Souza was moved to 3B because of his size and the amount of errors that he has racked up. In the previous two seasons, he has had at least 30 errors and already has 9 for this season. It seems likely that a move to first base or the outfield may eventually be in his future, especially given the fact that the "hot corner" is already locked up for the long term on the MLB team. With his bat though, he would be able to fit in a role as a 1B or corner outfielder.