The Washington Nationals’ brass themselves said it best earlier in the season when they were asked about the success of their Gulf Coast League team. Simply put, they called them a “juggernaut.”
Sunday, the GCL Nationals defeated the GCL Red Sox to win the GCL Championship. While a feat like that is impressive, what’s more impressive is that the GCL Nats went 49-9 in the regular season to get to the playoffs. To put that in perspective, if I absolutely have to, they finished 24.5 games ahead of the second place GCL Marlins in the GCL East division and the next best GCL team, the GCL Yankees, finished a measly 36-24.
If you’re wondering what in the world the Gulf Coast League even is, it’s okay because I’m going to tell you. The GCL team consists of some of the youngest players in the organization. It’s basically a rookie squad. This year’s squad consists mainly of players from the Dominican Republic and recent draftees.
As a team, they led the GCL in ERA (2.45) and shutouts (11). With the bats, they led the league with a team average of .281, RBI with 259, slugging percentage with .374 and on base percentage with .359. As you can see, juggernaut is an appropriate term.
Center fielder Rafael Bautista was the leader for the GCL Nats offensively. He batted .322 with an on base percentage of .400 and tied for first in the league with 26 stolen bases. Right fielder Randy Encarnacion performed well with an average of .349 and an on base percentage of .437.
Pitchers Wander Suero and Hector Silvestre led the GCL in wins with eight and seven respectively. They both also boasted sub-2.00 ERA with Suero finishing with a 1.65 ERA and Silvestre finishing with a 1.82 ERA. Suero also had 46 strikeouts.
They may be young, but they’re still talented. The GCL Nationals were loaded with players that can hopefully contribute like this in some way at the major league level in the future. Most of us already knew that they Nationals had depth in the farm system. However, depth that goes this deep is a very rare thing to have, and it’s something that should get fans excited about the future.