Souza named International League MVP; Gardner, Burriss and Laird honored

Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs outfielder Steven Souza Jr. has been named International League Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year, according to a club press release.

Souza becomes the sixth International League MVP in Syracuse history and first since Chad Mottola in 2000. He’s also the seventh IL Rookie of the Year in Chiefs history and first since Shawn Green in 1994.

Souza is hitting .354 with an on-base percentage of .435 and slugging percentage of .601. All three statistics lead the International League. He has 18 homers, 70 RBIs and 24 stolen bases.

In 91 games with the Chiefs, Souza also has 23 doubles, two triples, 18 home runs, 70 RBIs, 49 walks and 24 stolen bases.

Souza was called up to the Nationals twice this season and is currently on the disabled list as he recovers from an injured left shoulder suffered Aug. 8 as he dove against the outfield wall in pursuit of a home run ball.

The 25-year-old from Everett, Wash., was a a starter for the Triple-A All-Star Game. He also earned his first base hit in the majors April 15 at Miami.

He is the first Chiefs player to earn MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season.

Billy Gardner Jr., was named Manager of the Year. It is Gardner’s second such citation in three seasons. He was named Southern League Manager of the Year in 2012 while with the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits in the Rays chain. The Chiefs are in first place in the International League North and have a five-game lead at 78-58.

Souza’s teammates, shortstop Emmanuel Burriss and third baseman Brandon Laird, also have been named to the IL postseason All-Star team. Burriss is batting .307 and has a 13.16 plate appearances per strikeout, tops in the league. Laird has 81 RBIs and a .303 batting average.

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