Souza named International League MVP, top rookie

Souza named International League MVP, top rookie

PHILADELPHIA -- Before his callup to the big leagues on Aug. 3, outfield prospect Steven Souza Jr. was lighting up the International League with Triple-A Syracuse. On Tuesday, it was announced that his efforts -- which included league leading marks for batting average (.354), on-base percentage (.435) and slugging percentage (.601) -- earned him the league's MVP and Rookie of the Year honors.

Souza, who is the first Chiefs player to win both MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season, also hit 18 homers, drove in 70 runs and swiped 24 bases. The Nationals' No. 5 prospect is currently rehabbing from a shoulder injury at Class A Advanced Potomac, and seems poised to be added back to the Nats' roster when rosters expand on Sept. 1.

The 25-year-old's historical season coincided with Syracuse manager Billy Gardner Jr. earning International League Manager of the Year honors.

"I just think he took a major step forward," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "Him and certainly Michael Taylor took major steps this year. And that's gratifying to see. It speaks to our player development guys. Certainly the managers, Billy Gardner, who was the Manager of the Year, congratulations to him as well. It just speaks to the way they help these kids get to where they want to get to. So they've both been in the big leagues this year. They're both close to being here on an everyday basis. And we're happy for them. It takes a lot of hard work, and a lot of dedication by a lot of folks to have guys that are named MVPs and Rookies of the Year and things like that."

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.