The Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs have won seven of their last eight games as Destin Hood and Steven Souza, Jr., heat up.
It is great to see Hood excelling. Hood has been through some slumps and injuries, but has steadily made the climb within the Nationals organization. Now he is rolling.
In his last 10 games, Hood has gone 17-for-40 (.425), with four doubles, two walks, three homers and four RBIs. In his first 26 games at the Triple-A level, Hood is batting .347 with a .949 OPS.
In the Chiefs 10-2 win at Rochester on Tuesday, Hood went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a run scored.
The Nationals have been impressed with Hood's "quick bat" and he has been able to make nice contact so far for Syracuse. Syracuse hitting coach Joe Dillon points towards Hood's consistency at the plate as to one reason he has been swinging the bat so well.
"He hits the ball hard," Dillon said. "He is a talented kid. He works hard. From what I have seen of him he has been real consistent and I thought he swung the ball well at spring training. Obviously, that was first time I'd ever seen him in spring training.
"I know he was coming of a tough year last year. But just from talking to everybody he showed up to spring training and swung the bat real well like what they saw from him a few years ago when he had a really good year.
"I thought he swung the bat well at Double-A, and since he has been here he has obviously swung the bat well. He is very consistent. Big strong guy, plays the game the right way. He has been doing a great job."
Hood has five homers so far this season and had four last season. His high watermark was 13 homers with Potomac in 2011. Dillon believes Hood has the ability to crush the ball because he hits the ball so hard.
"He definitely has got power," Dillon said. "I don't think he has had any big home run years to date. But I think it is maturity process as a hitter. Learning how to manipulate contact for a little bit and get the ball in the air in hitter's counts. I think he is starting to understand that and evolve as a hitter.
"But he definitely has some power. He hits the ball extremely hard and low. As he evolves as a hitter I think he is going to learn to hit the ball in the air a little bit more in hitter's counts and hit some long home runs. He hits the ball extremely hard so he definitely has plenty of power to hit the ball out of any park."
Hood was the No. 8 prospect in the Nationals organization during the 2013 season, according to MLB.com. He had signed a letter of intent to play baseball and football at the University of Alabama. In 2008, he was a second round selection out of Mobile, Ala.
Hood spent his entire 2010 at Single-A Hagerstown and all of the 2011 at Single-A Potomac. In 2012 and 2013 he was at Double-A Harrisburg. This season he spent 19 games with the Senators before being called up to Syracuse. Dillon said one reason Hood has maintained extreme focus each campaign is his concentration on getting better each day by repeating his same set up and same method each at-bat.
"This is my first year with him, he has been great," Dillon said. "He is very diligent with his work. He has got a plan and a good routine. He executes it every day. He gives himself the best chance to succeed. He obviously is trying to get better and learning. We have a good group of older guys here too that been helping the younger guys all they can. He has been a sponge and keeps learning. He has been wonderful."
Also raking right now for the Chiefs is Souza who already has played eight games this season with the Nationals. He has surged in his return to Triple-A.
In Souza's last 10 games, he is batting .395 (17-for-43) with five doubles, one triple, two homers, one stolen base, two walks and seven RBIs. His OPS during this run is 1.120. Souza's average with runners in scoring position is .405.
"He has been doing well," Dillon said. 'He has been putting quality at-bats together. He hits the ball extremely hard consistently. He has got a lot of pop in that bat as well. He has been doing great."
Hood, Souza and Brian Goodwin (five stolen bases) form a solid corps in the Chiefs outfield. Infielder/outfielder Zach Walters is also doing well, he had a three-run shot in Tuesday's win and is now hitting .306 in his return to Triple-A. Third baseman Brandon Laird is batting .321.