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Nationals option Matt Grace, Dan Butler to Triple-A, Wilmer Difo to High-A Potomac

The Washington Nationals optioned left-hander Matt Grace and catcher Dan Butler to Triple-A Syracuse and optioned infielder Wilmer Difo to High-A Potomac after a big season at Low-A Hagerstown for Difo in 2014.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals announced the latest round of roster moves this afternoon following the Nats and Detroit Tigers' 0-0 tie in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium.

Matt Grace, 26, was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse after he completed a scoreless inning of work vs the Tigers.

In six Grapefruit League outings including today's, Grace threw 6 ⅔ scoreless, walking one and striking out three while holding opposing hitters to a .222 BAA.

"This [Wilmer] Difo kid, who is a speed, power, defensive guy who was obviously only in A-ball last year, but a guy that turned a lot of heads this year." -Mike Rizzo this winter on Nats' prospect Wilmer Difo

Grace, a 2010 Nationals' 8th Round pick, posted a 1.02 ERA, a 2.56 FIP, 12 walks (3.06 BB/9) and 32 Ks (8.15 K/9) in 35 ⅓ innings pitched at Double-A Harrisburg last season and 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 at Triple-A.

Also optioned to the Nats' top minor league affiliate was veteran backstop Dan Butler, who was acquired by the Nationals in a trade for left-hander Danny Rosenbaum this winter.

In eight games in Grapefruit League action this Spring, Butler was 1 for 8 with a run scored.

Wilmer Difo put together an impressive run with the big-league Nationals this Spring, going 7 for 22 (.318/.333/.455) with a double, a triple and two runs scored before he was optioned to High-A Potomac today.

Last week, Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters, including Washington Times' writer Todd Dybas, that he was impressed with the work Difo was doing this Spring:

"'I just think that he’s well on his way to being a big-leaguer," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "It’s early yet for him. Hasn’t even reached Double A yet. He can certainly hit a fastball; that’s where you start. We’ve seen him swing at some bad breaking balls, too. That’s just being young.

"'He plays both middle infield positions. Got speed. Runs the bases well. Pretty good package for him. I just think it’s a matter of him getting at-bats."

Difo, 22, spent the 2014 campaign at Low-A Hagerstown, posting a .315/.360/.470 line with 37 walks and 65 Ks in 136 games and 610 plate appearances over which he hit 31 doubles, seven triples and 14 HRs while stealing 49 bases in 58 attempts.