Steven Souza Jr.’s final major league at-bat came with his hometown team.
The Cascade High School graduate, who’s been in the majors since 2014 and last played as a member of the Seattle Mariners earlier this season, announced his retirement from professional baseball Tuesday.
“Sixteen years after my name was called in 2007 by (general manger) Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals I have finally decided to hang up my glove and my career,” Souza said in a post on Twitter. “It’s been an incredible journey that I dreamed as a kid I would be able to go on.”
Time to call it a Career pic.twitter.com/pQ77oLYAkn
— Steven Souza (@SouzaJr) July 19, 2022
Souza, 33, spent parts of nine seasons in the majors as a bustling outfielder who possessed a dazzling combination of power and speed. After being selected out of high school in the third round of the 2007 draft by the Nationals, he made his major-league debut with Washington in 2014 and went on to play eight seasons in the majors, including time with the Nationals, Tampa Bay Rays, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Los Angels Dodgers and Mariners. Over those eight seasons he appeared in 505 games, batting .229 with 72 home runs, 207 RBI, 42 stolen bases and a .729 OPS.
Souza’s best seasons came with the Rays from 2015-17, where according to Fangraphs.com he was worth 6.8 wins above replacement. That included a 2017 season in which he blasted 30 homers and was named Tampa Bay’s Most Valuable Player. For his efforts he was named The Herald’s Man of the Year in Sports for 2017.
Souza’s career wasn’t without its challenges. In 2010 when he was in the minors, he was given a 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing substances. Then after his 30-homer season in 2017 his career was beset by injuries, including a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee suffered during a spring training game with the Diamondbacks in 2019, which wiped out his 2019 season. Souza had just 79 major league at-bats after suffering the torn ACL.
Souza received the opportunity to finish out his career with the team he supported as a child when he signed a minor-league contract with the Mariners in March. He began the season at Triple-A Tacoma, where in 22 games he batted .267 with a .950 OPS, and he was called up to Seattle on May 13 to replace struggling youngster Jarred Kelenic. He appeared in six games with the Mariners, batting 3-for-19 before being released on May 23 without playing a game at T-Mobile Park. He did not catch on with another major-league team afterwards.
Souza was ranked No. 6 on The Herald’s list of the top 10 Major League Baseball players of all time with Snohomish County ties, which was compiled in April of 2021.
”I wanna give special thanks to all the players, coaches who impacted not only my career but my life,” Souza said in his post. “I want to give a special thanks to my wife and my family for supporting me during this amazing journey. Without your love and support I never would have made it out of the (Gulf Coast League). I don’t now where Jesus is leading me next but I do know that I want to share my experiences and my love for the greatest game in the world with those who strive to be what I did. Here’s to the next chapter!”
Souza is the second prominent Snohomish County native to announce his retirement from professional baseball this year. Jackson High School graduate Travis Snider, an outfielder who spent parts of eight seasons in the majors, retired in January. Furthermore, fellow Cascade alum and major-league outfielder Grady Sizemore was announced as a member of the 2022 Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame induction class in June.