Souza, a shortstop in high school, was a standout receiver and defensive back on the football team and also played basketball as a freshman.
- Steven says he was only about 5-foot-2 and 140 pounds when he entered Cascade High School in Everett, Washington. But he grew about four inches by his sophomore year on his way to developing his 6-foot-4, 225-pound big-league body.
"My uncle was in the military and he took me to work out every single day after school," Souza recalls. "He taught me how to lift and everything."
Souza improved his power in 2008, following a winter of bulking up. "I really tried to focus on getting big physically so I could prepare myself for the long season," Souza said. "This offseason, I went to the gym every day like everyone else. But I gained 15 pounds instead of five. Now I'm not gearing up as much, and I'm hitting the ball harder."
July 16, 2010: Souza was suspended for 50 games because he tested positive for Methylphenidate and Ritalinic Acid, which are classified as performance-enhancing substances under the minor league testing guidelines.
What changed that allowed Steven to have such a breakout year in 2012? "Honestly, I didn't make a huge amount of adjustments to my swing. It was more of a mindset," said Souza, who was drafted by the Nats in the third round in 2007. "I was baptized in January of last year. I started to give my game to God and the glory to play for him. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the pressures of this game. I just try to go out and play and have fun. My coaches have been telling me to just go out and play for years, but it never really sank in. Finally, I said, 'OK, whatever happens here, God has it under control.' I was just going to go out and play."
There was a point in Souza's career that he let the pressure get the best of him. On July 15, 2010, he was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for Methylphenidate and Ritalinic Acid -- performance-enhancing substances in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Souza didn't hesitate talking about the suspension. He vowed that he wasn't going to let it derail his career, and he knew he couldn't make any more mistakes.
"I was a young kid looking for a quick fix when I was tired," Souza said. "In that moment, it was a bad choice. Now that God has entered my life and took it over, those choices that I had in those moments were the easy way out. Brent Lillibridge, the veteran big league utilityman who is in camp with the Cubs this spring, invited Souza to church in Lynwood, Wash., in December 2011. The following month, Souza was baptized.
"Everybody makes mistakes, but it's how you bounce back and learn from those mistakes. And if you keep making the same mistakes over again, then you really didn't learn from them. It was a dumb decision."
Late in the 2012 season, Souza was asked to leave high Class A Potomac during the postseason. An argument with manager Matthew LeCroy, now the big league bullpen coach, “just kind of blew the top open,” he said.
“I felt like the game had taken over me—the pressure and everything,” Souza said. “I just felt like I couldn’t take it anymore.”
Souza says he realized during his break that “my identity is set in Christ.” He considered playing college football at Washington State but eventually asked to return to baseball. Steven was welcomed back, provided he apologized to teammates and started at low Class A Hagerstown in 2013.
In 2013, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook had Souza at 25th-best prospect in the Nationals' organization. Then he moved all the way up to #10 in the offseason before 2014 spring camps opened.
They moved him up to #5 in the Nats' system in the winter before 2015 spring training—just before he was traded to the Rays organization. In an updated version, B.A. had him #1 in the Rays' farm system.
In the fall of 2011, Steven Souza Jr. quit the sport he loved and the team that drafted him. He had already served a suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy and been benched by his manager. So rather than report to the team’s offseason instructional league in Florida, he went home to Everett, Wash.
Souza contacted major college coaches about playing football. The responses were positive, but “once I got the e-mails back, I had a reality check,” he said. “Do I really want to do this?” Now, at 24, he is at his first Major League spring training.
Before high-Class A Potomac’s final playoff game in 2011, then-Manager Matt LeCroy benched Souza for violating team rules. Souza said he handled it poorly, pouted and got into an argument with LeCroy. He called Doug Harris, the Nationals’ farm director at the time, and told him he was quitting the organization.
“This is weird to say, but I think it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Souza said. “. . . Once baseball was taken away, it was kind of my identity, as a baseball player. Wherever I went, in my home town or among my friends, I was the man. I had this upper-echelon level. Once it was taken away from me, I had to check myself. I need to make a change in my life not just baseball-wise, but my outlook on life.”
Souza also decided he wanted to return to baseball. He apologized to Nationals officials, and his road to redemption began the following spring at Hagerstown.
"I’m just impressed with how he’s matured,” said LeCroy, who is now the Nationals’ bullpen coach. “To come out here in big league camp, and [he] is holding himself really well as a player and as a young guy here in camp. Just shows a lot how he’s grown up, and that maturity is going to take him to the top.” (James Wagner - 3/12/14)
Souza may be among the best pure athletes in camp. He has a 37 1/2-inch vertical leap, said he ran the 60-yard dash in around 6.5 seconds and can bench press 365 pounds. As an outfielder, Souza feels he can let his athleticism shine.
“Once I got out to the outfield, it honestly reminded me of playing receiver,” Souza said. “You’re going and catching a pass in the gap and running down balls. It was also my ability to use my arm again.
“I’m super thankful,” Souza said. “. . . I want to come in and help this team win, but wherever God puts me, on this team or in Syracuse [in Class AAA] or wherever, I’m just thankful for where I am at this point.”
In 2014, a survey of International League managers by Baseball America showed Souza being named as "Best Power Prospect" and "Best Baserunner."
In 2014, the Nationals named Souza their Minor League Player of the Year.
Steven is a late-bloomer with upside, Souza logged eight years in the minors before finally making it to the Majors in 2014. That summer, he led the IL in the modern triple-crown categories (batting/on-base/slugging) to help Syracuse finish with the best record in the IL.
Steven is big on hand-eye coordination drills.
Souza was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid and was medicated for it up until high school.
- Steven and his wife, Mikaela, went on a missionary trip to the Phillipines with Unlimited Potential Inc. in 2015, visiting rural villages and providing food to families in need.
Steven purchased a bow early in 2016, and plans to take up bow hunting after the 2016 season. He credits former teammate Adam LaRoche for helping him set up his bow and giving him some pointers.
STEVEN SOUZA JR.
For the first 23 years of Steven Souza Jr.'s life and the first five years of his professional career, he was known only as Steven Souza. Adding the "Jr." was something he always wanted to do. It was something he thought about often. But it was also something he continuously put off to a later date. Souza Jr. isn't like many players who end their name with the two-letter suffix. There are guys like Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn Jr., Cal Ripken Jr., and several more. Those players, though, are the "Juniors" to other well-known fathers in Major League Baseball. The suffix serves as a way to honor their distinguished fathers, while also making their own distinction.
Souza Jr. didn't play much baseball; let alone one who played in the Major Leagues. He's a manager at Boeing. He has a dad who supported his baseball career growing up, and one who helped put it in perspective when he decided to quit. He has a dad who he wanted to honor on his jersey with those two letters when he returned to the game in 2012, and a person he especially honors on Father's Day.
"This is what I want to be known by," Souza Jr. said. "It gives me an opportunity to honor my dad, talk about him, and let them know how I got here."
Souza Jr. is in his second season with Tampa Bay. He has made a reputation as a right-fielder who isn't afraid to lay out for a fly ball, and he also has a strong arm. He owes much of that to his father, Steve Souza Sr., who may not have given him the baseball gene, but has given him just about everything else.
"We were told multiple times that he had the talent," Souza Sr. said. "People could see that he had the athleticism to do very well. We just helped foster it. I felt that he was dedicated to the sport, so I would help keep that dedication."
Souza Jr.'s father would drive him two hours in traffic to get him to practice. He bought a pitching machine, and he built a hitting cage in the family's backyard in Washington state. There were times when the two would play and Souza Jr. would be frustrated with his dad's lack of baseball ability, but those are moments the two look back on and laugh about. However, there have been some struggles. While Souza Jr. was rising through the Nationals' organization, he served a 50-game suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs. He even quit baseball for part of a year before returning the following season, in large part, because of his dad's guidance.
"He kind of put his foot down in my life. That was the first time in a long time," Souza Jr. said. "My dad was always 'buck stops here' when I was growing up, but when I got older, it was more of a friend relationship. This was the first time in a long time where he put his foot down."
So when Souza Jr. finally got called up from Triple-A Syracuse to the big leagues with the Nationals, he gave the ball from his first base hit to his dad. Even if Souza Jr. had never made it to the next level, he says, he still would have been forever grateful. This, though, was a tangible way to show his gratitude.
Souza Sr. still resides in Washington state. He started off as a mechanic for Boeing and worked his way up to senior manager. Everyone he works with knows his son is in the Major Leagues, because he's proud to share it. He'll make the trip to Tropicana Field as much as possible, and fly up and down the West Coast to see his son and a dream he helped make possible.
"It's so surreal, you don't know how to comprehend it," Souza Sr. said. "I knew my son had the talent. I knew that he could go far with it. How far? I could have never told you that he'd be a big leaguer…It took a while to sink in. It's like a dad's day in heaven." (Sam Blum - MLB.com - June 16, 2016)
At the "Players Trust Golf Tournament" in 2016, Souza hit a 342-Yard drive. (Intentional Talk/April 2017)
Souza likes to play the drums. He jammed with Evan Longoria in the 2016 off-season. (Intentional Talk/April 2017)
Souza married his wife Mikaela in February 2015. They welcomed their first son, Micah Stanley on December 15, 2016. (Intentional Talk/April 2017)
First-time father Steven Souza Jr. cherishes the first smile he received from his son, Micah, who was born in December 2016. The first laugh was even better. Souza's sister-in-law was swinging Micah up and down when it came bubbling out.
"It made my wife cry, it was just hilarious," Souza said, smiling at the memory. "He's got this goofy laugh that is just awesome."
Remembering the way his own dad used to make him laugh when he was young, Souza is doing his best to make sure Micah's smile stays bright and his infectious laughter continues to fill the Souza home.
At a postgame celebration that following Tampa Bay's series-clinching win over Oakland, Souza held Micah near his locker, hoisting him toward the ceiling and making faces.
"He surprisingly is really hands-on," said Mikaela Souza, who married Steven in 2015. "I joke with everyone, because he at first wanted nothing to do with the birth process. But then once he's in it, he was all about it."
Shaking off his initial hesitation, Souza ended up helping the doctor with the delivery, catching the newborn and cutting the umbilical cord. If Mikaela showed surprise with her husband's turnaround leading up to delivery day, Rays fans might be caught off guard seeing how the burly power hitter behaves away from the diamond.
"When he comes home, he talks in a little baby's voice, does any little dance move -- anything he can do to make him laugh, which just cracks him up," she said. Mikaela says the ability to make Micah laugh is one of Souza's biggest strengths as a father. (Mount - mlb.com - 6/15/17)
Playing the role of father now in addition to husband, Souza no longer has time to think about baseball when he comes home. That makes for a better situation for the whole family.
"I think you can get overwhelmed with those thoughts," Souza said. "When you're right where you are, which is here [at the field] being the baseball player, and at home being the dad and the husband, it's really good for -- I feel like my soul -- to just separate that part of my life. Because it can overwhelm you, consume you and actually start to define you, and then that pours into how you're being a dad."
Baseball has treated Souza well in 2017. He's producing the best slash line of his career and has been well above league average in terms of on-base plus slugging, hallmarks of hitting. But the extended periods away from home are tougher now. "It sucks being gone a lot more," he said.
Luckily, he can check in and see his family via FaceTime. (Mount - mlb.com - 6/15/17)
Steven's nickname is "Souzbot". He says, "The goggles I use, [teammates] think I'm a robot, but Brad Miller gave me the name. Also, when we were on a flight from New York last September, I started dancing in my stance. And everybody was like, "Bot."
- Souza has a Goldendoodle named Zoey, who was featured in the 2017 Rays Players & Pooches calendar.
- Souza attended a leadership retreat in the 2016-17 offseasons, going duck hunting at pitcher Luke Hochevar’s farm in Nashville.
Dec 22, 2017: Souza, who lives just outside Seattle in Everett, Wash., with his wife, Mikaela, and 1-year-old son, Micah, took a moment to share his thoughts on the holidays in a Q&A with MLB.com.
MLB.com: Does the Souza family have any Christmas traditions?
Souza: We have the one present we open on Christmas Eve. When I was a kid, we'd wake up my parents super early. We'd open our gifts then we'd go to my Aunt Gena's.
MLB.com: Did Santa put the toys out, and then you had packages to unwrap?
Souza: Christmas Eve, there were a few packages under the tree. And then for some reason, Santa would come and there were a ton of gifts on Christmas morning. That was really cool.
MLB.com: So you had a big chimney?
Souza: That, and we left the back door open, too.
MLB.com: Micah, your son, was born right before Christmas last year, so this will be the first time he gets to really get after it, right?
Souza: Yes, so we're looking forward to that. That will be really special. Funny, he just had a party for his first birthday, and he got a ton of gifts, and I'm sitting there thinking, like, "This is going to be an interesting transition growing up, because his birthday is so close to Christmas." It's going to be a lot of fun to enjoy family and be able to celebrate with them.
MLB.com: What can you do with a 1-year-old at Christmas?
Souza: Well, he will rip something apart. So I think he's going to love that. I think he'll love ripping the gifts open and playing with the new toys. I don't think, necessarily, he's going to understand the magnitude of it. But I think he's going to really love just ripping open a present.
MLB.com: The ripping open part sounds like his father.
Souza: [Laughs.] I'll tell you what, more and more, he's showing a personality like mine.
MLB.com: Any special foods you enjoy at Christmas?
Souza: Yes. My Aunt Gena made prime rib with horseradish. Everybody would kind of make different things. My aunt would make an apple salad, my parents would bring a side, and then we'd have horseradish with it. And then my favorite thing my Aunt Gena did, she knew that I loved prawns, and she made this prawn, garlic and mushroom mix, and it was unbelievable. So we've had that every Christmas.
MLB.com: Do you have a favorite Christmas movie?
Souza: "The Grinch" with Jim Carrey. I think my wife, my sister-in-law and I watched that four or five times. Pretty funny.
MLB.com: Any favorite Christmas songs?
Souza: "Mary Did You Know?" would be my favorite.
MLB.com: How about a memorable toy you got for Christmas?
Souza: I got an air hockey table one Christmas. That was awesome. My parents used to do this really cool thing. I'm going to do it for my kids. They would put all the gifts out, all wrapped up, and there would be one big gift that was left out. Sometimes they'd put it in a different room, and when my older sister, Shantelle, and I would walk in there, we'd freak out. Sometimes they'd have a little treasure hunt. We'd have to go find it. When I got older, they left it in the garage or whatever. And the air hockey table was left in the garage, and they said, "Go out in the garage," and there it was.
MLB.com: What is Christmas in the Seattle area like?
Souza: Christmas in Seattle is exactly how it should be -- not how Christmas in Florida is. It's cold. Sometimes it snows. We have fir trees up here, and they're still green. And the ones that aren't, the leaves are all gone. It's just beautiful. It's one of the things I love about Seattle. Every season is emphasized up here. It's a lot of fun." (B Chastain - MLB.com - Dec 22, 2017)
Jan 4, 2018: Getting ready for the next season is one thing. Healing from the previous season is another. Steven Souza Jr. is pleased that he's no longer having to do both. After an injury-plagued 2016 campaign, Souza had hip surgery. The offseason that followed dealt with healing from that surgery first, then prepping for '17.
"Last year was a really stressful offseason, having to get up at 5 in the morning, sit in traffic for an hour, drive to town, rehab, help my pregnant wife, or take care of my kid," Souza said. "So I'm just super thankful for this offseason."
In addition to the anxiety of recovering from surgery, Souza had to deal with performance. He'd been a Triple-A superstar in the Nationals' farm system, but his performance in the Major Leagues had only shown glimpses of what had been forecast for him.
"The 2016 season wasn't the one I'd like to hang my hat on," Souza said. "But I think every year I've tried to get better, and I'm going to keep trying to do that until I stop playing. There was a little uncertainty going into last season. But this offseason has been kind of a different animal."
Souza showed a lot of improvement in 2017. The power-hitting right fielder hit .239 with 30 home runs and 78 RBIs, but he wants more.
"How do I make it better?" Souza said. "How do I take that next step forward? I don't know that that mindset has changed a lot, just trying not to be guaranteed anything. I just treat it like I'm coming in, I'm not letting anybody take anything. I'm going to go get it."
Souza seemed to run out of gas late last season, hitting .183 in August and .152 in September/October.
"I fell off the table a little bit in September, and I think I hit a roadblock," Souza said. "That's sort of been my motivation this offseason. How do I not let that happen again this year? How do I finish strong, where I'm not tired when I get to September? "The hip surgery [after the 2016 season] kept me from doing any running and I didn't get to do any lifts. But I need to be more disciplined with my conditioning during the season."
So Rays fans, take heart; Souza's best is yet to come. (B Chastain - MLB.com - Jan 5, 2018)
Steven's son Micah was born in December 2018. He said a few different aspects of fatherhood surprised him. "Well I think, at first, it's all the diapers you have to change," he said. "Then when they walk, how much you've got to protect them. Following them around, making sure they survive and not jumping in a pool or something."
Souza is injured, but he said it hasn't excused him from being a father. "In fact, it probably gets me as many more duties as possible," Souza joked. "It's been a blast and I'm very thankful to be a father. It's a special day for me." (Toscano - mlb.com - 6/17/18)
- Souza accidentally hit a girl in the head with a ball while tossing it to her on July 31, 2018 vs. Rangers and kept going back between innings to make sure she was okay.
- Met Ken Griffey Jr., a childhood hero, at a sushi restaurant in San Francisco in 2018…nervously approached
Griffey and was surprised when the HOFer knew who he was.
Dec 21, 2018: Christmas is a special time of the year in the Souza household, where the focus is on family, gratitude and giving back. After a full day of workouts, D-backs outfielder Steven Souza Jr. recently spent some time sharing his thoughts on the holidays with MLB.com.
What's one of the family traditions you have had in your family?
"It's changed over the years as we've had our own families. We used to go to my Aunt Gena's house and we'd have the same exact meal -- prime rib. We had a huge family, and the cool thing about Christmas was that everybody would get together, so I got to see everyone and hang out. It was always a lot of fun."
What's the best Christmas gift you've ever received?
"My parents were really into Christmas, like the giving part of it, which was really cool. When we were younger, we would open our gifts -- normal gifts like socks, T-shirts, a toy here or there -- but then at the end my parents would have like a card and they would hand it to me and my sister. The first time they did it, we didn't know what it was. It ended up being a treasure hunt. I had to follow this treasure hunt. My dad had placed other cards around the house and at a couple of the cards there was a small gift and finally at the end of the treasure hunt was an air hockey table. I had been asking for it forever and we didn't have a whole lot of money growing up, so I didn't really expect it. My parents would always say, 'Write down what you want and then write down a couple of big things that you know you probably can't have but wish you had.' So, I wrote down 'air hockey table' for a couple of years, and then one year my dad got a promotion at work or something, and I got an air hockey table. It was cool. It was really cool.
"My parents sacrificed whatever they wanted to do for themselves, for us. It meant a lot to get that air hockey table. One other year after that was a baseball bat and another year it was a glove. But the hockey table was the first one where it was like, 'Wow, this is amazing!' Obviously when my son gets older, we're going to pass on the tradition of the treasure hunt."
Any other traditions at Christmas?
"One of our things as a family is we love to serve our community. So we serve in the food bank and we find a way to give whether it's through our church, or directly, to help. It's a time for us to reflect on what we're thankful for. The ability to give gifts is a really special thing, and the ability to share that is a blessing."
Who does the shopping for gifts in your family?
:Definitely my wife. She's the shopper because she gets the right presents. It's almost like she's literally been listening all year long and knows exactly what the person wants. It's pretty amazing how she does that."
Do you guys open you gifts Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
"One present Christmas Eve night and then all of the presents Christmas morning." (S Gilbert - MLB.com - Dec 21, 2018)
- Steven is married to Mikaela. They have a son, Micah.
A native of Everrett, Wash., he grew up a big fan of the Mariners. His favorite player was Edgar Martinez, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.
Souza is a big fan of fellow Seattle native Macklemore…his most recent favorite Macklemore song is “My Oh My,” which has lyrics that reference Edgar Martinez’s famous 11th inning double to win Game 5 of the 1995 NLDS vs. Yankees.
He is also a big basketball fan…grew up a fan of the Seattle SuperSonics, but now supports the Portland Trail Blazers after the Sonics moved.
June 2007: The Nats drafted Souza in the third round, out of Cascade High School in Everett, Washington. Steven signed for a bonus of $346,000 rather than accept a scholarship to Washington State. Souza was scouted by Doug McMillan, who died in May 2007.
December 18, 2014: In a giant 11-player/3-team trade, the Padres received OF Wil Myers, C Ryan Hanigan, RHP Gerardo Reyes, and LHP Jose Castillo—all from the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays received Souza and LHP Travis Ott from the Nationals, and C Rene Rivera, 1B Jake Bauers, and RHP Burch Smith from the Padres. The Nationals received two players from the Padres: RHP Joe Ross and SS Trea Turner.
Souza has similar power as Myers, and is a much better defender. He hasn’t stayed healthy on a consistent basis, which is the riskiest part of the deal for Tampa.
- Feb. 20, 2018: The Yankees, Rays and D-backs swung a three-way deal on with INF Brandon Drury heading to New York. The D'Backs received Steven Souza, Jr. and RHP Taylor Widener. The D'Backs sent LHP Anthony Banda and two players to be named (RHP Sam McWilliams and LHP Colin Poche), to the Rays.. And Tampa also received 2B Nick Solak.
- Jan 11, 2019: Souza Jr and the D-backs avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year deal.
|Home:||Shoreline, WA||Team:||DIAMONDBACKS - IL|
|Birth City:||Everett, WA|
|Draft:||Nationals #3 - 2007 - Out of high school (Wash.)|
Souza has excellent bat speed. He has good leverage in his easy righthanded stroke, helping provide very good power to all parts of the ballpark. He can hit the ball the other way with power. And he can hit it out over the opposite field fence.
In 2012, Steven began incorporating his lower half more. In 2013, he began doing a better job staying in his legs and maintaining a balanced swing, helping him drive the ball to all fields. And in 2014, he adopted an up-the-middle approach that has helped him cut down on his strikeouts and make better use of his power -- enough for 15-20 homers per season.
He uses the whole field, but he excels at driving the ball into the right-centerfield gap.
Souza has some holes in his swing. His swing has some length, maing him vulnerable to offspeed pitches. And he lacks good pitch recognition skills.
He has some work to do cutting down on the aggressive, long swing that often finds him a bit tardy on high velocity pitches. He can be fooled by offspeed pitches as well.
Steven has a short and compact swing and recognizes pitches early. He does have a good knowledge of the strike zone and is fairly effective in his pitch selection. Souza is given to accepting a base on balls. He controls the strike zone well.
- April 16, 2014: Souza had his first Major league hit. Steven, who replaced Jayson Werth as a defensive substitution in right field in the sixth, singled up the middle for his first Major League hit.
"It's an exciting moment," said Souza, who will give the ball to his parents. "I just want to thank Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior for putting me in this position and giving me an opportunity to come out here. It's an exciting moment for my family."
2014 Season: Souza earned both the MVP and rookie of the year awards in the International League, which he led in average (.350), on-base percentage (.432) and slugging (.590). He contributed 18 home runs, 77 RBIs, 28 stolen bases and 52 walks in 100 games.
By the end of the season, he had collected 23 at-bats for the Nationals and made a game-ending catch to preserve Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter in the regular season finale.
At Spring Training in 2015, Rays manager Kevin Cash's early take on Souza: intense and hard-working.
"Everything he does he does with a purpose, which has been impressive," Cash said. "... He's very conscientious of his craft and how he goes about it. But as far as actually knowing him that well, it takes some time, like everybody else. But our conversations up to this point have gone really well."
"He's fun to watch," Cash said. "In batting practice, he's very disciplined with his approach. You can tell he takes his BP rounds with a purpose. And it's kind of impressive, not that he's that young, but it's very easy to get caught up out here when you're hitting on the same field as [Evan] Longoria, [James] Loney and some of the other guys. You can quickly change your approach. He has not done that. He's kind of stuck to it."
Souza credited Nationals Minor League hitting coach Mark Harris for stepping in four years ago to help him find his batting practice approach.
"He taught me to learn how to be a hitter," Souza said. "So that's what I try to do. I use every part of the field and work on it in practice. Really concentrate on hitting line drives. After he taught me, I just stuck with it ever since." (Chastain – mlb.com 3/3/15)
Souza credits current Nationals' Double-A hitting coach Mark Harris and former field coordinator Bobby Henley, now the Nationals third-base coach, with creating a short, compact swing and an approach that allowed him to take off beginning in 2012.
“(Mark Harris) really built the foundation for learning how to be a hitter, and Bobby (Henley) kept me disciplined and staying with a line drive approach,” Souza said. “He taught me that hitting line drives and ground balls in BP would turn into homers and line drives in the game, and he was right, and I just stuck with it ever since.”
The change is very apparent. Souza became a more selective hitter, with improved power, taking advantage of his athletic, strong frame.
Steven credits Joe Dillon, Nats' hitting coach at Syracuse in 2014 with help in the mental game.
“Joe took me to a different level approach-wise,” Souza said. “It’s a tough thing, because mentally you have to stay disciplined. Sometimes you’re not going to get those pitches for three, four . . . or eight at-bats, and you have to stay locked in enough to know what you want and not give in, and that’s what Joe and I worked on. “
- On June 17, 2015 Souza layed down a bunt that turned into an inside the park home run.
- As of the start of the 2019 season, Souza's career Major League stats were: .233 batting average, 70 home runs and 371 hits with 198 RBI in 1,590 at-bats.
- Souza's arm strength is average. He doesn't have the soft hands you like to see in an infielder.
- He worked some in the outfield in 2012, and in 2013 established himself as a solid-average defender in right or left field.
Steven displays impressive closing speed and makes some dazzling diving catches.
On the last day of the 2014 regular season at Nationals Park, Souza made a phenomenal diving catch to end the game - and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann gave the fans a thrill during a 1-0 victory over the Marlins. Zimmermann became the first pitcher in Nationals history to throw a no-hitter.
"I really didn't know what happened. He kind of rolled on the ball and I really didn't know what happened," Zimmermann said about the catch. "Then he lifted his glove up, so I knew that he had it."
With two outs in the ninth inning, Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich came to the plate. First-base coach Tony Tarasco was moving Souza toward the left-field line. On a 2-1 pitch, Yelich hit the ball to left-center field. Center fielder Michael Taylor knew he didn't have a chance to catch the ball, but there was Souza, who dove and caught the ball like a wide receiver to protect history.
"It came at a weird angle and my second hand came in there. I was holding it like a football," Souza said. "Sometimes when you come in the game, the ball finds you. I was just ready. I was going to put my body on the line for him."
After the Nationals mobbed Zimmermann for what he accomplished, they ran toward Souza in left field. There was Souza giving Zimmermann a big bear hug. What did Zimmermann say to Souza after the spectacular catch? "He just said, 'I love you. Great catch,'" Souza said.
"Whatever he wants," Zimmermann said, when asked what he would buy Souza. "I don't even care. I thought that was a double for sure, and here he comes out of nowhere and makes the play. All the guys behind me today did a great job. We were switching guys in and out. This is a big win for us, and I've got to thank all these guys playing behind me."
Jayson Werth, who did not play in the game, thought Souza was out of position after Tarasco put him near the left-field line.
"[Souza] couldn't have been more out of position for that play. But it ended up being perfect, because it put him in the perfect spot," Werth said. "The only way you could make was that one." (Ladson - mlb.com - 9/28/14)
- Steven has average or better (50 or 55) speed, and it plays up because of his fine baserunning instincts.
One scout called Souza's speed "deceptive." He's a smart baserunner.
April 2008: Souza was in extended spring to start the season because of a sore right shoulder.
July 2008: Steven was on the D.L. for a couple of weeks.
May 15, 2012: Souza was on the D.L. for a couple of weeks.
August 4-17, 2012: Steven was on the D.L. again.
April 14-May 24, 2013: Souza was on the D.L. with an oblique injury.
July 27-August 23, 2013: Steven was on the D.L. again.
August 10-31, 2014: Steven was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder contusion.
July 7, 2015: Souza was on the D.L. with a lacerated finger.
August 1 - September 11, 2015: Souza was on the DL with a fractured left hand after getting hit by pitch.
June 15-July 2, 2016: Steven was on the IL with a left knee surgery.
September 21-Nov 7, 2016: Souza was on the DL as he underwent surgery to repair his left hip impingement and lateral tear.
Nov 10, 2016: Souza didn't really know how much he was hurting until after his season-ending hip surgery took place. On Sept. 21 in Nashville, Dr. Thomas Byrd performed a surgery to remove tissue from a labral tear and impingement of Souza's left hip, easing his pain.
"You don't really realize how much pain you were in until it's gone," Souza said. "Having pain on the field was one thing, but the quality of life at home, being able to sit down for an extended period of time, had been extremely difficult. You compensate in so many different areas just to try and get comfortable.
"Now my hip is doing great. I'm about five weeks away from starting to sprint. I'm very pleased with the outcome."(B Chastain - MLB.com - Nov 10, 2016)
March 22-May 3, 2018: Souza was on the DL when he suffered a right pectoral strain and will be out of game action for a couple of weeks "at least," manager Torey Lovullo said. He could conceivably return to the D-backs by mid-May, a significantly shorter recovery time than had it been an injury to his labrum, clavicle or rotator cuff.
May 22-July 5, 2018: Souza was on the DL with right pectoral strain.
March 25, 2019: D-backs right fielder Steven Souza Jr. sustained a left knee injury after scoring a run in the fourth inning of the 6-3 loss to the White Sox in an exhibition game at Chase Field. Souza collapsed after stepping awkwardly on home plate and writhed in pain as he grabbed his left leg. He was carried off the field by two D-backs trainers and the club announced Souza will undergo an MRI.
“We are going to be optimistic that everything turns out OK. It’s just a very unfortunate incident,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “I saw the tracks on home plate and I saw the tracks leaving home plate, and he just slid across home plate. These athletes are so amazing and strong. You put some extra force on some shoes, some cleats, and you just don’t know how it’s going to respond. We have practiced hitting home plate a hundreds of times. That’s what is so heartbreaking.”
March 26, 2019: Steven was on the IL as he will undergo season-ending surgery to repair an ACL tear, LCL tear, partial PCL tear and posterior lateral capsule tear in his left knee.
April 2, 2019: Steven had surgery on his left knee performed by Dr. Timothy Kremchek in Cincinnati. D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said, “Everything went perfectly fine just the way it was anticipated. The doctors saw exactly what the MRI showed. All the necessary repairs were made, and we feel like starting today he’s going to start to come out the other end. I’ve been told it’s going to be a very grinding recovery.”