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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 58: Bennett Sousa

Another young lefty who’s avoiding the LOOGY tag

Big stretch: Sousa shifted from a modest college career to a extremely solid pro debut in 2018.
Kim Contreras/South Side Sox

Bennett Sousa
185 pounds
Throws: Left
Age: 23
SSS rank among all left-handed relief pitchers in the system: 4

Sousa, a resident of North Palm Beach, Fla. pitched all four of his collegiate seasons with the Virginia Cavaliers, where all but three of his 70 appearances were out of the bullpen. His best season was his junior year (2017), when he had a 4.09 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over 33 innings, allowing 25 hits and 15 walks while striking out 44. The Washington Nationals selected him in the 34th round of the 2017 draft, but Sousa elected not to sign.

In 2018 Sousa struggled, to the tune of a 5.23 ERA and 1.35 WHIP over 43 innings, allowing 36 hits and 22 walks while striking out 61. His overall college numbers, with the exception of strikeouts, wasn’t been all that jaw-dropping: 5.50 ERA and 1.55 WHIP, while allowing 98 hits, 69 walks, and 130 strikeouts over 108 innings of work. Despite these numbers, the White Sox liked what they saw and drafted him in 2018.

Sousa dominated in a brief nine-game stint in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League, where he allowed just four hits (.089 OBA) without a walk, 18 strikeouts, earning two saves for Great Falls over 13 innings of work. This led to an incredible 0.00 ERA and 0.31 WHIP, along with a phenomenal strikeout rate of 40%.

Sousa earned his promotion to Kannapolis on July 15, and while his production wasn’t as dominant, the southpaw was very solid overall. In 22 13 innings over 11 appearances, Sousa compiled a 2.01 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, while allowing 20 hits (.256 OBA), seven walks (7.9 BB%), 24 punchouts (27.0 K%), and earning two saves.

His combined totals for 2018 with Great Falls and Kannapolis were: 1.27 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 35 13 innings, 24 hits (.195 OBA), seven walks (5.2 BB%), 42 strikeouts (31.8 3%), and six saves. Not too shabby!

Sousa features an impressive three-pitch repertoire. His fastball maxes out at 94 mph but generally runs 89-92, according to Baseball Draft Report, and has low, hard, tailing action when down in the zone — a heavy pitch, when located correctly. Secondly, Sousa offers a mid-80s slider, with hard spin and downward bite. His third pitch is a changeup with nice, diving action, which he primarily uses against right-handed hitters. Righties batted .225 against Sousa’s offerings this year, while lefties hit a paltry .065.

The big thing with Sousa is not his stuff, but his control. A big reason for his problems with Virginia was that fell behind the count constantly, which led to more walks and more pitches the hitters were able to see.

Sousa pitched 31 2⁄3 innings over 18 games, so the White Sox aren’t treating him as a LOOGY quite yet. While righties have hit just .247 against Sousa overall, they fared better against him at Kannapolis, to the tune of a .327 average. If Sousa can successfully locate his changeup and stay ahead on righties, he could be quite a successful multiple-inning southpaw option out of the bullpen — something similar to Jace Fry. If not, his floor would still be that of LOOGY; after all, an OBA of .065 versus lefties is nothing to sneeze at.

Despite his success and his age, Sousa started the 2019 season in Kannapolis and has been terrific, if a bit unlucky: 0-2 in seven games, with five walks and 13 Ks, for a 1.00 ERA. It seems that Sousa would be on a fast track to Winston-Salem, with a chance at Birmingham this season.

Take a look!

Video from Brian Sakowski.

2019 South Side Sox Top 100 Prospects

58. Bennett Sousa, LHRP
59. Blake Battenfield, RHSP
60. Caberea Weaver, CF
61. Matt Foster, RHRP
62. Tate Blackman, 2B
63. Hunter Schryver, LHRP
64. Romy González, CF
65. Carlos Perez, C
66. Trey Michalczewski, 3B
67. Taylor Varnell, LHSP
68. John Parke, LHSP
69. Mike Morrison, RHRP
70. Zach Remillard, 3B
71. Luis Martinez, RHSP
72. Zach Lewis, RHSP
73. José Nin, RHRP
74. Colton Turner, LHSP
75. Jhoandro Alfonso, C
76. Ramon Beltre, 2B
77. Charlie Tilson, CF
78. Hunter Kiel, RHRP
79. Jason Bilous, RHSP
80. Nick Johnson, RHRP
81. Danny Dopico, RHRP
82. Harvin Mendoza, 1B
83. Logan Sowers, RF
84. Maiker Feliz, 3B
85. Brayan Herrera, RHSP
86. Craig Dedelow, LF
87. Wilber Pérez, RHSP
88. Kyle Kubat, LHRP
89. Johan Dominguez, RHRP
90. Mitch Roman, 2B
91. Ty Greene, C
92. Tanner Banks, LHSP
93. Jake Elliott, RHRP
94. Kevin Escorcia, LHRP
95. Luis Rodriguez, RHSP
96. Ian Dawkins, LF
97. Victor Diaz, RHRP
98. Travis Moniot, LF
99. Will Kincanon, RHRP
100. Brian Clark, LHRP

More information on South Side Top Prospects.