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|TOP 10 PROSPECTS|
|1. Lucas Giolito, rhp|
|2. Michael Taylor, of|
|3. Reynaldo Lopez, rhp|
|4. Erick Fedde, rhp|
|5. Steven Souza, of|
|6. A.J. Cole, rhp|
|7. Wilmer Difo, ss/2b|
|8. Drew Ward, 3b|
|9. Brian Goodwin, of|
|10. Nick Pivetta, rhp|
The Nationals rebounded from a disappointing 2013 campaign with a banner regular season, winning the National League East by 17 games and posting the best record in the NL.
Washington carried incredible momentum into the postseason, as Jordan Zimmermann threw the first no-hitter in Nats history against the Marlins on the final day of the regular season. Steven Souza recorded the final out with an incredible diving catch on the warning track in left-center field.
But Washington lost both of its home playoff games in the Division Series against the Giants, including an 18-inning heartbreaker in Game Two, en route to a series loss in four games. The Nationals' Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche, went a combined 2-for-35 in the series, and the team's stellar pitching staff, which led the majors with a 3.03 ERA, couldn't compensate for an offense that went cold.
The Giants won the series without scoring more than three runs in any game.
Despite the bitter disappointment of Washington's postseason performance, the future remains bright for a club that boasts one of the best young cores in baseball. Righthanders Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg are in their primes, giving the rotation an overpowering one-two punch. The emergence of righty Tanner Roark and the acquisitions of lefty Gio Gonzalez and righty Doug Fister over the last three seasons make the rotation deep.
The Nationals struck gold in 2009 and 2010 drafts with back-to-back No. 1 overall picks Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper, who still is just scratching the surface of his potential at age 22. They boldly landed elite talents with their first-rounders in the next two drafts when injuries caused third baseman Anthony Rendon and righty Lucas Giolito to slide.
Rendon spent one year as the team's top prospect before entrenching himself as a cornerstone piece in the majors, and he took the next step to stardom in 2014. Giolito, meanwhile, ranks atop the team's prospects list for the second straight year after making a full recovery from Tommy John surgery and dominating low Class A hitters as a 19-year-old.
The Nationals continued to be opportunistic in the draft in 2014, snatching up Nevada-Las Vegas righthander Erick Fedde, a top-five-picks talent who slipped to No. 18 because of Tommy John surgery. They signed him for just over $2.5 million. But they were disappointed that second-rounder Andrew Suarez, a lefthander for Miami, opted not to sign, thinning out the draft class.
Because several of Washington's top picks flew to the majors in a hurry, their system is top-heavy. Still, the Nationals have been rewarded for their philosophy, and they look poised to compete for championships for the foreseeable future.
Under general manager Mike Rizzo, scouting director Kris Kline and player development honcho Doug Harris, the Nats have become a model organization.