The month of July was filled with highlights in the Washington Nationals’ farm system. Before Zach Walters was dealt to Cleveland, Austin Voth made the leap to Double-A, and Michael Taylor and Lucas Giolito appeared in the MLB All-Star Futures Game.
In this post, the Federal Reserve recaps July with the Hitter and Pitcher of the Month Awards. The hitter of July compiled yet another dominant month en route to the big leagues, while one talented hurler had one of the best stretches of his career.
Hitter of the Month: Steven Souza Jr., Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs
The winner of June’s prize, Souza was just as, if not more, impressive in July. Logging 111 plate appearances over 26 games, the outfielder batted .362/.423/.670 with 6 home runs, 23 RBIs, and 8 stolen bases in 10 attempts. He also made a highlight catch in the Triple-A All-Star Game at Durham, NC on the 16th:
The Nationals recalled Souza on Sunday to replace the injured Nate McClouth. He departed the International League as its triple-slash line leader at .354/.435/.601, which was complimented by 18 home runs, 70 RBIs, a 183 wRC+, and 24 steals in 31 attempts.
While Souza received minimal playing time in his first two stints in the majors this season, the Nationals should give him more opportunities now. His combination of power and speed makes a worthy substitute for any of the Nationals outfielders in the event of a day off, and he has proven he can master Triple-A.
With Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, and possibly Denard Span all in place for 2015, Souza will have to fight for at-bats. If Washington cannot offer any opportunities, another organization may come calling for his services.
Honorable Mentions: Anderson Franco (DSL), Spencer Kieboom (Low-A Hagerstown), Raudy Read (Short Season-A Auburn), Jakson Reetz (GCL), Zach Walters (Syracuse).
Pitcher of the Month: Lucas Giolito, Low-A Hagerstown Suns
Giolito’s high upside has been apparent all season, but the young righthander took his performance to another level in July. Making 5 starts, he went 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA in 28.1 innings pitched with a 33:5 K:BB ratio while allowing just 18 hits. In a start against Kannapolis (White Sox) on the 25th, he allowed one hit (an infield single in the first) while striking out 7 with no walks.
That month, combined with a solid effort against West Virginia (Pirates) on Tuesday, brings Giolito’s overall record to 8-2 in 18 starts. In addition, he has a 2.35 ERA, 3.36 FIP, and a 99:26 K:BB in 88 innings. While a temporary shutdown in mid-May has pushed him under the South Atlantic League’s threshold for the ERA title, Giolito still leads the Suns in strikeouts and has posted a solid 6.2 H/9 rate.
As I wrote recently on the Hagerstown Suns Fan Club Blog, his dominance is in part because of improved command of his curveball. He is prone to home runs when he leaves the pitch up in the zone, so he will need to refine it he as works through the higher levels. However, it is clear that Giolito has never been better, and is pitching as good as advertised right now.
Honorable Mentions: A.J. Cole (Syracuse), Reynaldo Lopez (Auburn and Hagerstown), Austin Voth (Potomac and Harrisburg), Hector Silvestre (Hagerstown and Potomac).
- Michael Taylor is 3-for-5 (.600) in his first two games at Syracuse, including a game-winning double against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) on Monday. The centerfielder was promoted from Harrisburg to take Souza’s place.
- The Potomac Nationals will host the Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox) and Carlos Rodon, the third-overall selection in this year’s draft, today at 12:05. It will be Rodon’s first start at the High-A level.