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Righty added to 40-man roster ahead of Rule 5

MLB.com @mlbbowman

Recognizing James Bourque might be appealing to other teams in next month's Rule 5 Draft, the Nationals added the right-handed reliever to their 40-man roster Monday afternoon.

Bourque, who is the organization's No. 17 rated prospect, is expected to be the only 40-man addition the Nationals make before Tuesday, when all Major League clubs must determine which of their Minor Leaguers will be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.

Recognizing James Bourque might be appealing to other teams in next month's Rule 5 Draft, the Nationals added the right-handed reliever to their 40-man roster Monday afternoon.

Bourque, who is the organization's No. 17 rated prospect, is expected to be the only 40-man addition the Nationals make before Tuesday, when all Major League clubs must determine which of their Minor Leaguers will be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.

Bourque successfully transitioned from a starter to a reliever, as he posted a 1.70 ERA in 53 combined innings (41 games) at Class A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. The 25-year-old hurler led all Nationals Minor Leaguers with 12.91 strikeouts per nine innings and 5.09 hits allowed per nine innings. He produced a 0.92 ERA over 19 2/3 innings after being promoted to Harrisburg.

The Nationals have four vacancies on their 40-man roster. But so far they have chosen not to protect four players who are listed among their top 30 prospects per MLB Pipeline. Those four players left unprotected are:

Telmito Agustin, OF: The 22-year-old outfielder ranks as Washington's 13th-best prospect, but he has not yet reached Double-A. He produced an .822 OPS while showing limited signs of power or speed for Class-A Advanced Potomac this year.

Tomas Alastre, RHP: The 20-year-old right-hander produced a 5.32 ERA while recording just 80 strikeouts over 118 1/3 innings (23 starts) for Class A Hagerstown this year. MLB Pipeline ranks him as Washington's 24th-best prospect.

Jose Marmolejos, 1B/OF: The 25-year-old prospect reached Triple-A for the first time this season. The organization's 25th-rated prospect tallied 14 homers at Double-A in 2017, but hit just eight while producing a .688 OPS for Syracuse this year.

Drew Ward, 3B/1B: Taken by the Nationals in the third round of the 2013 MLB Draft, Ward has struggled to live up to expectations. The corner infielder and 29th-ranked prospect produced an .833 OPS over 380 plate appearances for Harrisburg this year, but he hit .185 and struck out in 20 of 54 at-bats after being promoted to Syracuse.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.

Washington Nationals