The next name on the list of Nationals top 10 prospects according to Baseball Prospectus is outfielder Steven Souza Jr., who already has etched his name in organization’s history books with one of the most amazing catches of the season to end the final regular season game.
His over-the-shoulder dive toward center field near the warning track in left not only won the Sept. 28 game against the Marlins, but it also cemented the first no-hitter ever thrown by a Nationals pitcher. Jordan Zimmermann’s 1-0 gem was sealed with that spectacular catch and that introduced many outside of D.C. to the athletic ability Souza possesses.
But Chris Mellen, co-director of the Baseball Prospectus prospect team, knows about Souza and says the outfielder carries a big bat that could help him stay in the big leagues for a good run if he can harness that power on a consistent basis.
No. 6: outfielder Steven Souza Jr.
“He’s a little bit older. It’s been a slow burn for him developmentally,” Mellen said of the 25-year-old. “I know he ran into some issues in his early career trying to get his head on straight being focused on the game. But the last 24 months have been some big steps forward for him. He started to show what those raw tools suggested early on in his career. The power for him is the big thing. He’s big, he’s strong. He’s got a leveraged swing.”
Mellen believes Souza has a shot to use that power to make him an important piece in the Nationals lineup.
“There are questions how good that contact ability is going to play, especially against advanced major league pitching in an extensive action type setting,” Mellen said. “Most likely, a guy who is going to strike out is going to miss. A guy that fluctuates between the .240s and the .260s but has a chance to impact the game with his power.”
And the catch he made to save Zimmermann’s no-hitter is an example of Souza’s ability to also make his mark with the glove.
“As we saw defensively, he’s not a slouch in the field,” Mellen said. “He’s not a guy who we would profile with as an above-average glove, but someone who could be more than adequate in the outfield. And then on the bases, too, he can impact the gam. He uses his speed to his advantage at times. He’s got to pick his spots.
“He’s a player who kind of maybe a little fringey for a long, long term regular. (Not) somebody who you could potentially build a team around or whatnot, but a contributor, someone who ( will last) some seasons, and show strong production, absolutely.”
Souza has a solid shot at making the 25-man roster out of spring training next season and can fill a void the Nationals need off the bench as far as a quality defensive glove with big power potential.