The Gulf Coast League Nationals defeated the GCL Red Sox 7-2 today to capture the GCL championship in Fort Myers, Fla.
Third baseman Drew Ward was 2-5 with a double and an RBI. Right-hander Wander Suero got the start and struck out seven batters in five innings to notch the win.
The GCL Nats had the best regular season record in Gulf Coast League history, going 49-9 for a .845 winning percentage. It was also the best winning percentage for any rookie league team dating back to the 1979 Paintsville Yankees, who went 52-13 (.800 in the Appalachian League.
The parent Nationals' top pitching prospect, Lucas Giolito, spent time with the GCL Nats before being promoted to the short-season Single-A Auburn Doubledays. The GCL team bonded quickly, Giolito told me, eating together before and after games, playing golf together and just hanging out.
They had "No panic" shirts printed up, and the slogan became the team's mantra during a spectacular run in which they dominated GCL foes.
The GCL Nationals were led by manager Patrick Anderson, pitching coach Michael Tejera, hitting coach Amaury Garcia, athletic trainer Don Neidig, and strength and conditioning coach Edwin Jimenez.