At the tail end of last season with the high Single-A Potomac Nationals, first baseman Steven Souza was frustrated with his play and ended his season earlier than he had originally intended.
After an offseason to think and to rededicate himself to game he loved, Souza came into spring training with a new attitude and an open mind with his new team, the Single-A Hagerstown Suns.
Through hard work, concentration and a positive mental state, Souza felt better about himself, and it showed in his play. Batting .290 in 70 games, Souza hit 20 doubles, two triples, 17 homers and 72 RBIs for the Suns.
His play and fresh outlook earned him a promotion to high Single-A Potomac.
Nationals director of player development Doug Harris and his staff could see the difference in Souza, and the potential, part of the reason the kid got a second chance.
"All of his (work) came to fruition as we hoped it would," Harris said. "Steven is a very talented young man from a physical standpoint, and he had never really had the opportunity to put together a season from the back of his bubble gum card that he could really be proud of."
Several coaches worked with Souza every day, and they could see he was dedicated to getting better and showing off his baseball talent. On the field and off, he has shown what he is capable of and the reasons the Nationals want him in their system. They also moved him from first base to the outfield.
"The credit goes to him and (Suns hitting coach) Mark Harris, (Suns manager) Brian Daubach, (hitting coordinator) Rick Schu and (outfield coordinator) Tony Tarasco transitioning him to the outfield, and it has also been a transformation for him offensively," Harris said.
Now, the 23-year-old Souza has the chance to get a full season under his belt and display the numbers they all thought he could in the first place. Souza is loving the shot to show what he can do again, and his work in the box has been some of the best offensive numbers on any level.
"He has gotten to the point where he is repeating his approach at the plate offensively," Harris said. "He knows who he is, and he knows what he is capable of doing, and the results speak for themselves."