Souza could provide spark to Nationals in 2015

Steven Souza Jr. put on a late-season display of his offensive and defensive abilities for the Nationals. The outfielder was named International League Rookie of the Year and the organization's top minor league player for his 2014 exploits.

Souza played in only 21 games for the Nats, but showed off his immense power by hitting a couple of home runs, one a moon shot in Atlanta. At the minor league level, Souza has hit 56 home runs since 2012.

SouzaNoNoCatch.jpgHe also made an defensive play that will forever be remembered in Nationals history. With two outs in the ninth inning and teammate and friend Jordan Zimmermann on the mound, he made a leaping grab of Christian Yelich's gapper to left-center. The play ended the game and preserved the club's first no-hitter.

The 25-year-old Souza can play in the outfield, third base and first base. He has played 249 games at third base, 117 games at first base and 246 in the outfield.

With all Souza has done recently, he comes into 2015 spring training with a good chance of making the 25-man roster. If Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth remain in their respective positions in the outfield, Souza would be vying for the fourth outfield spot.

His main competition for right-handed at-bats would be veteran Kevin Frandsen. The 32-year-old Frandsen has more experience, but cannot provide the power that Souza would. Frandsen is under contract for 2015, and hit .259 in 105 games for the Nationals as the club's top righty bench bat.

Right-handed hitting veteran Scott Hairston is a free agent, and will likely move on. A healthy Nate McLouth would be vying for the lefty outfield replacement spot in 2015. Lefty-hitting Nate Schierholtz would likely move on.

The Nationals need to add more power and more of an offensive threat to their lineup. Souza looks primed to make the next step and would add both power and athletic ability to the bench. What he lacks in experience, he makes up with game-changing ability.

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