Souza excels in full season, ready to make noise at instructional league

Right-hand hitting outfielder Steven Souza, Jr., took a big step forward in 2012, putting together a full season that displayed his power and skill on the baseball diamond.

With a .290 average, 17 homers and 72 RBIs in 70 games at low Single-A Hagerstown, Souza earned a promotion back to high Single-A Potomac and kept on going. He finished the year with a combined .297 average in 97 games, with 23 homers, 85 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.

Although Souza missed some time with various injuries to his hand and knee, he kept on coming back and confirmed what the Nationals' brass thought of him when they selected him in the third round of 2007.

"I think to a man, the coaches in this organization, they are proud of Steven Souza," Hagerstown manager Brian Daubach said. "When you get to this talent level, it is pretty humbling and it is not always easy. You see a lot of guys go one way or another, and to a credit for Steven, he is going, without a doubt, in the right direction."

At 6-foot-3, 220 lb., Souza certainly has the physical makeup to play the game, and now he has the mental focus to excel. Daubach said that has been the major difference for Souza in 2012.

"He has always had the power, the arm, the speed, and this year was the first time he put it all together," Daubach said. "He stayed within an approach (this season). I never managed him before, but I heard at times he had gotten way too big and trying to (hit) home runs, and this year he just let it happen. I think he had fun playing this year. He really dominated at our level and earned a promotion and kept it going at Potomac, which is great to see."

Souza could really make a jump now that he has the complete game in order. Similar to Tyler Moore, Souza has displayed the power and skill to get on base and drive in runs. He also has shown his arm can make life difficult for opponents trying to advance.

With outfield coordinator Tony Tarasco working with him this month at instructional league, Souza is primed to make another jump next season. The 23 homers he hit in 2012 were one more than he hit in all of 2010 and 2011. He is hitting his stride again at just the right time. Having him invited to instructional league proves what the Nationals believe they have in Souza.

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