Yesterday, I was thankful for family, friends and health.
Today, I’m thankful that the button didn’t pop off my pants during Thanksgiving dinner and that I won’t be forced to participate in any Black Friday shopping.
You couldn’t pay me to go to a mall today and battle the crowds. Not my cup of tea. Not even close.
Steven Souza Jr.’s 2014 season was beyond impressive. The 25-year-old outfielder hit a ridiculous .350/.432/.590 (that’s a 1.022 OPS, folks) at Triple-A Syracuse, leading the league in all four categories.
He added 18 homers, 75 RBIs and 26 stolen bases in 34 attempts.
Souza was named the Nationals minor league Player of the Year, the International League’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year for the Chiefs.
He must be running out of space on his mantle at home after all the hardware that was sent his way in 2014.
Souza truly dominated the International League in every offensive facet, and saw his defense improve in the outfield, as well. He split his time between right field (63 games) and center field (27 games), playing just one game in left. That, in my mind, makes his no-hitter-saving catch in the Nationals’ regular season finale even more impressive, given how little he had played left field.
The question now is what happens with Souza in 2015.
Could the Nationals carry him as an extra outfielder, giving him at-bats in a pinch-hitting role and having him fill in for Jayson Werth or Denard Span on occasion? Sure, they could. But let’s also remember here that Nate McLouth is set to return next season after shoulder surgery ended his 2014 campaign prematurely. McLouth will make $5 million in 2015, meaning he’ll definitely be on the bench - if healthy - as the fourth outfielder.
Souza could find himself as an extra outfielder, one with big pop from the right side. He has played first base full-time in the past, and takes grounders there before games at times, so he could potentially find himself serving as a backup first basemen. But Souza hasn’t appeared in a game at first since 2011 at Single-A Potomac.
Injuries obviously happen all the time in this game, and that could open a more defined role for Souza at the big league level. For now, however, we’ll have to wait and see how he fits in during the 2015 season.
Souza has nothing left to prove at Triple-A. He has loads of talent and potential game-changing power. But will that earn him a spot on the Nats’ roster for 2015?