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Before they were postseason bound: Nationals

September 23, 2017

The Nationals are heading to the postseason for the fourth time in the past six seasons. Many familiar faces returned to the club this season after last year's trip to the National League Division Series, but there are quite a few new ones as well. Here at we want

The Nationals are heading to the postseason for the fourth time in the past six seasons. Many familiar faces returned to the club this season after last year's trip to the National League Division Series, but there are quite a few new ones as well. Here at we want to give fans a head start by providing the backgrounds of each player representing the nation's capital.
Matt Albers, RHP
Born: Houston, Texas
DOB: 1/20/1983
HS: William P. Clements (Texas) High School
College: San Jacinto College
Minors: Martinsville (R), Tri-City (A-), Aberdeen (A-), Lexington (A), Salem (A+), Corpus Christi (AA), Birmingham (AA), Round Rock (AAA), Norfolk (AAA), Pawtucket (AAA), Charlotte (AAA)
• Prior to recording his first career save in 12 Major League seasons on May 5 vs. the Phillies, Albers was nearing Ryan Webb's record for most games finished without one. Webb's 99 is the record; Albers' streak ended at 91. The Houston native paired with teammate Anthony Rendon to help raise over $135,000 for the Houston Area Flood Relief Fund for Hurricane Harvey.
Wilmer Difo, 2B/SS
Born: Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic
DOB: 4/2/1992
Minors: Auburn (A-), Hagerstown (A), Potomac (A+), Harrisburg (AA), Syracuse (AAA)
• The South Atlantic League Most Valuable Player in 2014, Difo batted .315/.360/.470 with 14 home runs and 90 RBIs for Hagerstown that season. He also received the Nationals' Bob Boone Award, which is given to a player who "recognizes professionalism and passion."
Sean Doolittle, LHP
Born: Rapid City, S.D.
DOB: 9/26/1986
HS: Shawnee (N.J.) High School
College: University of Virginia
Minors: Stockton (A+), Midland (AA), Sacramento (AAA), Nashville (AAA)
• Doolittle set the New Jersey high school record with 23 strikeouts in his team's extra-inning championship victory in 2004. He was also a member of the USA College National Team in 2006 that earned a gold medal in the World University Games in Havana, Cuba. Drafted 41st overall as a first baseman/outfielder by the Athletics in 2007, Doolittle missed all of 2010-11 rehabbing from multiple knee surgeries that forced him to convert back to pitching.
Giovany Gonzalez, LHP
Born: Hialeah, Fla.
DOB: 9/19/1985
HS: Hialeah (Fla.) High School, Monsignor Edward Pace (Fla.) High School
Minors: Bristol (R), Kannapolis (A), Winston-Salem (A+), Potomac (A+), Reading (AA), Birmingham (AA), Sacramento (AAA)
• A self-proclaimed lover of comic books, Gonzalez helped Hialeah win two state championships in three seasons before transferring to Monsignor Edward Pace. The southpaw learned his curveball from his father and the two would practice throwing the pitch off the side of his childhood home. The pitch helped him lead the Minor Leagues with 185 strikeouts in 2007 pitching in the White Sox organization.
Bryce Harper, OF
Born: Las Vegas, Nev.
DOB: 10/16/1992
HS: Las Vegas (N.V.) High School
College: College of Southern Nevada
Minors: Hagerstown (A), Potomac (A+), Harrisburg (AA), Syracuse (AAA)
• Harper's career to date has been nothing short of sensational when he's been on the field. He won NL Rookie of the Year in 2012 while also becoming the youngest position player ever to be selected to the All-Star Game (19) and was unanimously named NL Most Valuable Player in 2015. He is the youngest player (23) to win MVP by unanimous decision. Prior to beginning his career as a pro, Harper graduated high school after his sophomore year to make him eligible for the 2010 MLB Draft when he was selected first overall by Washington. The Scenic West Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2010 while playing for Southern Nevada, Harper clubbed 31 home runs to shatter the previous school record of 12. He earned the Golden Spikes Award for best amateur baseball player that year. Harper broke the record for most runs scored in April with 32, surpassing the Rockies' Larry Walker, who had 29 in 1997.
Edwin Jackson, RHP
Born: Neu-Ulm, Germany
DOB: 9/9/1983
HS: Shaw (Ga.) High School
Minors: South Georgia (A), Jupiter (A+), Jacksonville (AA), Las Vegas (AAA), Durham (AAA), El Paso (AAA), Norfolk (AAA), Syracuse (AAA)
• One of the more well-traveled players in the game's history, Jackson is one shy of former hurler Octavio Dotel for the Major League record for most franchises played for (13). His father was a cook for the United States Army and was stationed in West Germany at the time of his birth. Jackson is one of 27 Major League players to be born in Germany. An outfielder for Shaw HS, Jackson helped lead his school team to the 2001 AAAA state championship. He was drafted in 2001 by the Dodgers as an outfielder, but the club converted him to a pitcher in short time. The 34-year-old threw a no-hitter despite walking eight batters on June 25, 2010, while with the Diamondbacks. The eight-walk no-hitter is tied for the third most free passes issued in a no-hit bid.
Howie Kendrick, OF
Born: Jacksonville, Fla.
DOB: 7/12/1983
HS: West Nassau (Fla.) High School
College: St. John's River Community College
Minors: Cedar Rapids (A), Rancho Cucamonga (A+), Arkansas (AA), Reading (AA), Salt Lake (AAA), Lehigh Valley (AAA)
• Kendrick had trouble receiving interest from colleges before landing at SJRCC, where he earned the Conference Player of the Year Award. After being drafted in the 10th round by the Angels in 2002, Kendrick was rated the No. 1 prospect in the Texas League by Baseball America. He was an American League All-Star with the Angels in 2011. Kendrick's first career grand slam came on Aug. 13, when he blasted a walk-off bomb in the bottom of the 11th inning to propel the Nationals to victory over the Giants.
Brandon Kintzler, RHP
Born: Las Vegas, Nev.
DOB: 8/1/1984
HS: Palo Verde (Nev.) High School
College: Dixie State College of Utah, Pasadena City College
Minors: Eugene (A-), Fort Wayne (A), Brevard County (A+), Huntsville (AA), St. Paul (AA), Nashville (AAA), Colorado Springs (AAA), Rochester (AAA)
• It's been a winding road to Washington for Kintzler, who was drafted in the 40th round in 2003 by the Yankees and then again in the 40th round in 2004 by the Padres. He was selected to his first All-Star Game as a member of the Minnesota Twins this season and was traded to the Nationals just two weeks later. He was feeding a rhinoceros an apple at the zoo when he learned of the trade.
Adam Lind, 1B/OF
Born: Anderson, Ind.
DOB: 7/17/1983
HS: Highland (Ind.) High School
College: University of South Alabama
Minors: Auburn (A-), Dunedin (A+), New Hampshire (AA), Syracuse (AAA), Las Vegas (AAA)
• In 2003 as a freshman at South Alabama, Lind was named second-team All-America as a first baseman. A year later he earned Sun Belt Conference All-Star honors as an outfielder. After batting .310 with 19 home runs and 71 RBIs in 91 games for New Hampshire in 2006, Lind was named Eastern League MVP. Lind won the Edgar Martinez Award after batting .305 with 35 homers and 114 RBIs with the Blue Jays that season, becoming the third player in the club's history to earn the honor. The 34-year-old homered in his first career at-bat with the Nationals, pinch-hitting for Stephen Strasburg.
Jose Lobaton, C
Born: Acarigua, Venezuela.
DOB: 10/21/1984
HS: U. E. Nacional 5 de Diciembre (Venezuela) 
Minors: Idaho Falls (R), Eugene (A-), Fort Wayne (A), Lake Elsinore (A+), Charlotte (A+), San Antonio (AA), Montgomery (AA), Portland (AAA), Durham (AAA), Syracuse (AAA)
• During a three-game series vs. the Blue Jays from Aug. 16-18, 2013, while playing for the Rays, Lobaton hit a walk-off triple and walk-off home run to become the first catcher since Wally Schang in 1917 to accomplish the feat. With his home run off closer Koji Uehara to beat the Red Sox in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, Lobaton is the only player to hit a walk-off homer for the Rays in the postseason.
Ryan Madson, RHP
Born: Long Beach, Calif.
DOB: 8/28/1980
HS: Valley View (Calif.) High School
Minors: Martinsville (R), Batavia (A-), Piedmont (A), Clearwater (A+), Inland Empire (A+), Reading (AA), Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA), Lehigh Valley (AAA)
• Madson is a two-time World Series champion with the Phillies ('08) and Royals ('15). He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012 and actually retired from baseball for several seasons before Kansas City signed him to a Minor League contract in January 2015. He earned his first playoff victory in Game 4 of the '08 NLCS vs. the Dodgers.
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Born: Jacksonville, Fla.
DOB: 4/1/1985
HS: Englewood (Fla.) High School
College: Jacksonville University
Minors: Kingsport (R), Brooklyn (A-), St. Lucie (A+), Binghamton (AA), New Orleans (AAA), Buffalo (AAA)
• Jacksonville University was the only four-year school to offer Murphy a baseball scholarship. The natural-born hitter batted .398 his junior season for the Dolphins, earning A-Sun Baseball Player of the Year. The 2015 NL Championship Series Most Valuable Player, Murphy set a record with six consecutive postseason games with a home run while helping the Mets reach their fifth World Series in franchise history.
Oliver Perez, LHP
Born: Culiacan, Mexico
DOB: 8/15/1981
HS: Cobales (Culiacan, Mexico)
Minors: Idaho Falls (R), Brooklyn (A-), Fort Wayne (A), Lake Elsinore (A+), St. Lucie (A+), Mobile (AA), Harrisburg (AA), Portland (AAA), Indianapolis (AAA), Norfolk (AAA), Buffalo (AAA), Tacoma (AAA)
• The 36-year-old Perez has represented the Mexican National Team three times ('06, '09, '13) in the World Baseball Classic. Signed to the Padres as an amateur free agent in 1999, Perez was traded in 2003 to the Pirates, with whom he racked up a career-high 239 strikeouts a year later. That total stands as the third-highest single-season mark in Pirates history.
Anthony Rendon, 3B
Born: Houston
DOB: 6/6/1990
HS: George Bush (Texas) High School, Lamar (Texas) High School
College: Rice University
Minors: Auburn (A-), Potomac (A+), Harrisburg (AA), Syracuse (AAA)
• Rendon began learning how to bat at age 3, practicing hitting pine cones with sticks in his backyard. He was a star basketball player, baseball player and track athlete at Hodges Bend Middle School before being named a 5A All-State and All-Greater Houston selection as a shortstop as a high school senior. As a true freshman at Rice in 2009, Rendon batted .388 with 20 home runs and 72 RBIs in 61 games while being named Baseball America's Freshman of the Year and Conference USA Player of the Year among several other awards. A year later he won the Dick Howser Trophy and was named Baseball America's College Player of the Year, becoming the first underclassman in 10 years to win the award. He was again named Conference USA Player of the Year as a sophomore and is the second player to earn the honor twice. That year he totaled more home runs (26) than strikeouts (22) and walked 65 times. Rendon rebounded from an injury-plagued 2015 to win 2016 NL Comeback Player of the Year.
Tanner Roark, RHP
Born: Wilmington, Ill.
DOB: 10/5/1986
HS: Wilmington (Ill.) High School
College: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Minors: Bakersfield (A+), Potomac (A+), Frisco (AA), Harrisburg (AA), Syracuse (AAA)
• Roark represented Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and started vs. Team Japan, helping the Americans prevail in a 2-1 win in the semifinal matchup. The right-hander finished in the top 10 in the 2016 National League Cy Young Award voting after he went 16-10 with a 2.83 ERA in 33 starts for Washington. He made one appearance in each of the past two Nationals' playoff runs and has given up three runs in seven total postseason innings (3.86 ERA).
Victor Robles, OF
Born: Santo Domingo Este, Dominican Republic
DOB: 5/19/1997
Minors: Auburn (A-), Hagerstown (A), Potomac (A+), Harrisburg (AA)
• Robles has wowed with his blazing wheels so far in just under a month of Major League action, recording two of the Nationals' three fastest home-to-third times on triples since Statcast™ was introduced. The top overall prospect in the Nationals' organization and No. 2 overall in Major League Baseball, per, Robles signed with the club as an international free agent in 2013. He participated in the 2017 All-Star Futures Game for the World Team and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. With his promotion to the Major Leagues on Sept. 7, Robles became the youngest player in the big leagues this season (20 years, 111 days).
Enny Romero, LHP
Born: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
DOB: 1/24/1991 
Minors: Princeton (R), Hudson Valley (A-), Bowling Green (A), Charlotte (A+), Montgomery (AA), Durham (AAA), Syracuse (AAA)
• Romero represented the Rays at the 2012 All-Star Futures Game and in 2016 began the season for Tampa Bay retiring 17 consecutive batters to set a franchise record. Romero pitched for the Dominican Republic in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, earning the win over Colombia with a scoreless inning in relief on March 12.
Max Scherzer, RHP
Born: St. Louis, Mo.
DOB: 7/27/1984
HS: Parkway Central (Mo.) High School
College: University of Missouri
Minors: Visalia (A+), Mobile (AA), Tucson (AAA), Toledo (AAA)
• One of the most prolific hurlers in the game's history, Scherzer became just the fourth pitcher to record 250-plus strikeouts in four consecutive seasons in 2017. He has won Cy Young Awards in both leagues -- one with Detroit ('13) and one with Washington ('16) -- and is the sixth pitcher in the game's history to do so. In '15 he became the sixth pitcher to throw two no-hitters in the same season and on May 11, 2016, he tied the Major League record with 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game versus his former team, the Tigers. The Big 12 Pitcher of the Year in 2005, Scherzer was Missouri's first-ever first-round Major League Draft pick.
Pedro Severino, C
Born: Bonao, Dominican Republic
DOB: 7/20/1993
HS: None
College: None
Minors: Auburn (A-), Hagerstown (A), Potomac (A+), Harrisburg (AA), Syracuse (AAA)
• Severino originally began his playing career at a young age as a pitcher, outfielder and third baseman, but filled in at catcher as a 15-year-old when asked by one of his coaches to fill in. His coach, impressed with his skills behind the plate, asked him to continue catching, but Severino did not want to and considered quitting. His father, however, convinced him to give it a chance. He was named a South Atlantic League All-Star in 2013 while playing for Hagerstown. Severino doubled off Marlins' hurler Jose Urena in his first Major League plate appearance.
Stephen Strasburg, RHP
Born: San Diego, Calif.
DOB: 7/20/1988
HS: West Hills (Calif.) High School
College: San Diego State University
Minors: Hagerstown (A), Potomac (A+), Harrisburg (AA), Syracuse (AAA)
• Prior to racking up a then-franchise-record 14 strikeouts in his Major League debut on June 8, 2010, Strasburg was one of the best college pitchers in the history of the game. He represented Team USA at the 2008 Summer Olympics, helping the Americans earn a bronze medal. He set school records in ERA and shutouts for West Hills and was named the school's 2006 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In 2009 at San Diego State, Strasburg was named National Pitcher of the Year, given to the best college hurler in the country.
Michael A. Taylor, OF
Born: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
DOB: 3/26/1991
HS: Westminster Academy (Fla.)
College: None
Minors: Hagerstown (A), Potomac (A+), Harrisburg (AA), Syracuse (AAA)
• Originally drafted in the sixth round as a shortstop out of Westminster Academy in 2009, Taylor passed up an opportunity to play for University of North Florida to begin his career with the Nationals. Taylor's 493-foot home run off the Rockies' Yohan Flande on Aug. 20, 2015, at Coors Field is easily the longest home run by a Nationals player since Statcast™ was introduced.
Trea Turner, SS
Born: Boynton Beach, Fla.
DOB: 6/30/1993
HS: Park Vista Community (Fla.) High School
College: North Carolina State University
Minors: Eugene (A-), Fort Wayne (A), Potomac (A+), San Antonio (AA), Harrisburg (AA), Syracuse (AAA)
• Turner, who set the Nationals' single-season record for steals in 2017, has long been known for his immaculate speed. As a freshman in 2012 for the Wolfpack, Turner stole 57 bases while being caught just four times. His 57 steals are an NC State record and were more than the team total for 158 Division I teams. He stole five bases in one game to tie the American Coast Conference record for most in a single contest. The summer before his junior year at NC State, Turner played for the Team USA college national team and was named the winner of the Brooks Wallace Award the ensuing year.
Jayson Werth, OF
Born: Springfield, Ill.
DOB: 5/20/1979
HS: Glenwood (Ill.) High School 
Minors: Delmarva (A), Frederick (A+), Dunedin (A+), Clearwater (A+), Potomac (A+), Bowie (AA), Tennessee (AA), Syracuse (AAA), Las Vegas (AAA)
• Werth began playing baseball competitively at 7 when his travel teams won four consecutive championships in Illinois youth baseball. While playing for his youth team, the Springfield Flame, Werth won the state and Midwest regional championships and earned a third-place finish in the 1993 Sandy Koufax World Series in Spring, Texas. Werth was selected to play for the U.S. Junior Pan Am Games in 1995 and helped Glenwood HS win the state championship as a junior in 1996 by batting .616 with 15 home runs in 31 games. He initially planned on playing baseball at the University of Georgia, but forewent the opportunity to play professionally after the Orioles drafted him 22nd overall in 1997. Werth's walk-off home run off the Cardinals' Lance Lynn in the 2012 NLDS is widely-regarded as one of the most memorable moments in Nationals history.
Matt Wieters, C
Born: Goose Creek, S.C.
DOB: 5/21/1986
HS: Stratford (S.C.) High School
College: Georgia Tech
Minors: Frederick (A+), Bowie (AA), Norfolk (AAA)
• Wieters is one of three players in Georgia Tech history to earn first-team All-America honors at least two separate times. Named an ACC All-American as a freshman for the Yellow Jackets in 2005, Wieters won ACC Rookie of the Year and first-team All-ACC. In 2006, he was named a first-team All-American and second-team All-ACC and in 2007 was again named first-team All-ACC and first-team All-America. He won Baseball America's award for 2008 Minor League Player of the Year after hitting a combined .355/.454/.600 with 27 homers and 91 RBIs in 130 games split between Frederick and Bowie of the Orioles' organization.
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
Born: Washington, N.C.
DOB: 9/28/1984
HS: Kellam (Va.) High School
College: University of Virginia
Minors: Savannah (A), Hagerstown (A), Potomac (A+), Harrisburg (AA), Columbus (AAA), Syracuse (AAA)
• The longest-tenured member of the Nationals, Zimmerman made his debut for the club on Sept. 11, 2005. He ranks fifth in doubles, sixth in hits and seventh in RBIs among all baseball players in UVA history. He owns the school record for most hits in a season with 92, which he accomplished in 2004, breaking his own record set the year prior. Zimmerman was the starting third baseman for the 2004 USA Baseball National Team that took home the gold medal in the FISU II World University Baseball Championship. His .468 batting average set the single-season record for the collegiate national team, leading him to earn USA Baseball's Richard W. "Dick" Case Player of the Year Award in 2004. He blasted a walk-off home runs off the Braves' Peter Moylan to give the Nats the win in the first regular-season MLB game at Nationals Park. He is the Nationals/Expos franchise record-holder for home runs. His 470-foot home run on April 29 this season is the longest homer at Nationals Park since Statcast™ was introduced. 

Oliver Macklin is a reporter for based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @OMacklinMLB.