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Nationals add A.J. Cole, Wilmer Difo, Brian Goodwin and Matt Grace to 40-Man Roster

In order to protect them from selection in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, the Washington Nationals added RHP A.J. Cole, IF Wilmer Difo, OF Brian Goodwin and LHP Matt Grace to the 40-Man Roster tonight, while making two more roster moves to make room.

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With the deadline to add Rule 5 eligible players to the 40-Man roster or risk losing them in this year's edition of the Rule 5 Draft, the Washington Nationals announced this afternoon that they added 22-year-old right-hander A.J. Cole, 22-year old infielder Wilmer Difo, 24-year-old outfielder Brian Goodwin and 25-year-old lefty Matt Grace to the 40-Man roster.

"At 22, Cole features a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and front-end-of-the-rotation potential..." -Nationals' press release on A.J. Cole being added to 40-Man Roster

In order to make room on the 40-Man, which stood at 38 after the Nationals cut ties with catcher Jhonatan Solano this week, the Nationals placed infielder Pedro Florimon on waivers, where he was claimed by the Pittsburgh Pirates and placed right-handed reliever Ryan Mattheus on outright waivers, leading the veteran pitcher to opt for free agency.

Cole, a 2010 4th Round pick, split the 2014 campaign between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.

In 14 starts at Double-A, Cole was (6-3) with a 2.92 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 15 walks (1.90 BB/9) and 61 Ks (7.73 K/9) in 71 IP. In 11 starts at Triple-A, Cole was (7-0) with a 3.43 ERA, a 4.48 FIP, 17 walks (2.43 BB/9) and 50 Ks (7.14 K/9) in 63 IP.

Difo, in his fifth season in the Nationals' organization after he was signed out of the Dominican Republic, put up a .315/.360/.470 line with 31 doubles, seven triples and 14 HRs in 136 games and 610 plate appearances at Low-A Hagerstown.

Goodwin, a 2011 1st Round pick, struggled with injury issues in 2014, posting a .219/.342/.328 line with 10 doubles, four triples and four home runs in 81 games and 329 plate appearances.

Grace, a 2010 8th Round pick out of UCLA, was effective working out of the bullpen at Triple-A Syracuse in 2014, posting a 1.30 ERA, a 3.31 FIP, 13 walks (2.81 BB/9) and 30 Ks (6.48 K/9) in 41 ⅔ IP, putting himself in the discussion for a role in the Nationals' bullpen in 2015.

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