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Steven Souza, Jr. named I.L. MVP

Burriss, Laird and Gardner, Jr. also recognized with Postseason honors
August 26, 2014

The Syracuse Chiefs are pleased to announce the results of this year's International League Postseason All-Star awards, as selected by the League's managers, coaches, media and club representatives. Outfielder Steven Souza, Jr. has been named International League Most Valuable Player, International League Rookie of the Year and an All-Star outfielder. In addition to Souza, shortstop Emmanuel Burriss and third baseman Brandon Laird have been named Postseason All-Stars. Syracuse manager Billy Gardner, Jr. has also been named International League Manager of the Year.

Steven Souza, Jr. becomes the sixth International League MVP in Syracuse history and first since Chad Mottola in 2000. He's also the seventh I.L. Rookie of the Year in Chiefs history and first since Shawn Green in 1994. Souza currently leads the League in all three slash-line categories; batting average (.354), on-base percentage (.435) and slugging percentage (.601). In 91 games with the Chiefs, Souza's collected 23 doubles, two triples, 18 home runs, 70 RBIs, 49 walks and 24 stolen bases. He made his major-league debut this season on April 13th with Washington and collected his first career hit on April 15th at Miami. Souza, a 25-year-old from Everett, Washington, was also named a starter for the Triple-A All-Star Game, where he doubled, drove in a run and walked in an International League win. He is the first All-Star outfielder for Syracuse since Corey Brown in 2012 and the first Chiefs player ever to win both MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season.

Emmanuel Burriss joins 2013 Syracuse shortstop Zach Walters to give the Chiefs Postseason All-Star shortstops in back-to-back years. The 29-year-old Washington, D.C. native currently ranks sixth in the I.L in batting average (.307), fifth in on-base percentage (.383), third in runs scored (79) and in a third-place tie for triples (seven). At 13.16 plate appearances per strikeout, he's statistically the toughest batter in the League to strike out.

Brandon Laird becomes the first Syracuse third baseman since Carlos Rivero in 2012 to be chosen for the Postseason All-Star team. The 26-year-old from Cypress, California is one of two players in the League with 80 or more RBIs, ranking second with 81. Laird's .303 batting average is good for seventh in the circuit with his 215 total bases ranking fifth. In 124 games with Syracuse, he's bashed 31 doubles and 16 home runs.

In his 20th season as a minor-league manager and first in Triple-A, Billy Gardner, Jr. has been named the first Syracuse I.L. Manager of the Year since Bob Bailor in 1989 and the fifth Manager of the Year in Chiefs history. This award marks Gardner's second in three seasons, after being named Southern League Manager of the Year in 2012 with the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits.

With today's announcement, the Chiefs have three Postseason All-Stars for the first time since 1994, when SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Shawn Green and RP Randy St. Clair were chosen to the All-Star Team. Syracuse also becomes the first team since the 1995 Norfolk Tides and third in I.L. history to win Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year in the same season. The Chiefs are currently 78-58, giving Syracuse its highest win total since 1998, and lead Pawtucket by 3.5 games in the I.L. North Division.