August 17, 2019

Washington Nationals Honor Steven Souza Jr., Lucas Giolito and Wilmer Difo

While Wednesday evening brought with it thunderstorms severe enough to postpone the Washington Nationals game against the New York Mets, the team did announce that several of it’s top minor leaguers would be recognized prior to Thursday’s game.

Every year since 2005, the Nationals have handed out Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year awards. Starting in 2013, the Bob Boone Award was added to be given to the player that showed outstanding professionalism throughout the season.

This year, Steven Souza Jr. takes the prize for Player of the Year while Lucas Giolito will be honored with Pitcher of the Year. Wilmer Difo becomes just the second player to be given the Bob Boone Award.

The International League’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year, Souza led the league in batting average (.350), slugging percentage (.590) and on-base percentage (.432). Also an All-Star selection at the mid-season and post-season points, the Syracuse Chiefs’ outfielder hit 25 doubles, 18 homers and 75 RBI in 96 games at triple-A.

On April 13 against the Atlanta Braves, Souza made his major league and nearly six months to the day later on Sept. 17, he jacked his first career homer off of Atlanta’s Alex Wood.

Giolito, drafted in the first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, pitched through the season for the Hagerstown Suns on a 98.0 innings limit while he recovers from Tommy Johns surgery. Even still, he finished with a 10-2 record in 20 starts with a 2.20 ERA, the best earned run average in the organization.

Described as an award given to the organization’s minor leaguer “who best demonstrates the professionalism, leadership, loyalty, passion, selflessness, durability, determination and work ethic required to play the game the ‘Washington Nationals Way,’” Wilmer Difo of the Hagerstown Suns became the second winner of the Bob Boone Award.

On the field, Difo excelled at single-A. Winning the South Atlantic League’s MVP award, he led the league in hits (176) while stealing 49 bags, hitting 90 RBI – the most among any Nationals’ minor leaguer – and batting .315.

Since the franchise moved to D.C. in 2005, the Nationals’ farm system has been carefully developed, particularly by general manager Mike Rizzo, into one of baseball’s best. Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann are all players developed by Washington and all have blossomed into All-Star caliber athletes.

Souza Jr., Giolito and Difo continue that trend and join quite a list of fellow farm hands to have accepted these awards.

Souza Jr. joins the likes of Steve Lombardozzi (2011) and Tyler Moore (2010) as the franchise’s Minor League MVP, while Giolito etches his name along side Taylor Jordan (2013), Zimmermann (2008) and John Lannan (2006). Difo joins Tony Renda – currently of the Potomac Nationals – as the only two winners of the Bob Boone Award.

Prior to the Nationals game against the Mets on Thursday, Sept. 24, all three players will be honored for their exceptional play and service on the field this past summer.

——————

Brian Skinnell is a sports writer born and raised in the Washington, D.C.-metro area and covers the Washington Nationals, Wizards and MiLB for District Sports Page. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+!

About Brian Skinnell

Brian Skinnell is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Nationals and college football. He is a born-and-raised follower of Washington, D.C. sports, “The” Ohio State Buckeyes and auto racing. A graduate of Shepherd University in December of 2014, he has a degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies with a Concentration in Sports Communications. Prior to joining District Sports Page (for his second stint), he spent time with Rant Sports, Yahoo Sports and the Washington Redskins. For his day job, he is an Editor for Team Velocity Marketing. Follow him on Twitter @Brian_Skinnell.

%d bloggers like this: