*This is a regular feature here at MLB Prospect Watch in which I will introduce a prospect who recently got called up to the majors and/or recently made his major league debut.
With a rash of injuries decimating now one-third of their opening day lineup, the Washington Nationals are already in dire need of reinforcements. Over the weekend, the club turned to outfielder Steven Souza to help fill the void left by Denard Span and Scott Hairston.
Souza, who will turn 25 at the end of the month, is a late-blooming fringe prospect who has come on strong the past two seasons while also missing time with injury. He posted an OPS over .900 in each of the past two seasons while reaching as high as Double-A, and was off to a nice start in Triple-A this season before his promotion.
Profiling best as a fourth outfielder, Souza doesn't do any one thing particularly well but can do a number of things well enough to help out a big league club. He has average power and above-average speed which have translated into good power/speed numbers in the minor leagues. Souza hit 23 and 15 home runs the last two years, respectively, and has four 20-steal seasons under his belt in the minors. Specifically in this situation, Souza's strengths fit quite well with the Nationals' needs.
WIth Span out, Nate McLouth has been pushed into regular play. The right-handed Souza should fit nicely as a platoon partner with the left-handed McLouth, and while he shouldn't spend much time in center field, he can handle the corner while Bryce Harper slides over to center. Souza should ultimately fill a similar role to that of Hairston as a part-time/bench player with some pop and speed who can start on occasion against left-handers.
Souza isn't likely to develop into an everyday player, but he is the kind of player that can help a contending team like the Nationals. He hasn't spent much time in Triple-A, but he's about to be 25, has plenty of minor league at-bats under his belt, and has had success in Double-A. That should be enough to prepare him to contribute right away.
If put in situations that fit his strengths, Souza can help the Nats until Span and Hairston return, and if Hairston doesn't return to form (he hasn't been productive since 2012), he could fill a similar role.