PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies added four players to their 40-man roster Wednesday, which protects them from December's Rule 5 Draft.
The foursome includes outfielders Aaron Altherr and Kelly Dugan, catcher Tommy Joseph and left-hander Rob Rasmussen. The organization now has 37 players on its 40-man roster, although that number will move to 39 once the deals for Marlon Byrd and Carlos Ruiz become official. Ruiz's deal could be announced Thursday.
Altherr, 22 and ranked by MLB.com as the organization's No. 18 prospect, hit .275 with 36 doubles, six triples, 12 home runs and 69 RBIs in 123 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater. He led the Florida State League in doubles and ranked in the top five in hits, triples and total bases. The Phillies selected Altherr in the ninth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Dugan, 23, hit a combined .291 with 24 doubles, four triples, 20 homers, 59 RBIs and an .858 OPS between Clearwater and Double-A Reading. The Phils selected him in the second round in 2009, their top selection that year.
Joseph, 22, missed most of last season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley because of a concussion. Philadelphia still hopes its No. 5 prospect can become a frontline catcher, which is why the Phillies acquired him from the Giants in the Hunter Pence trade in July 2012. Joseph is healthy and playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
Rasmussen, 24, went 3-11 with a 4.11 ERA in 28 games between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Albuquerque. The Phils acquired him in August, when they traded Michael Young to the Dodgers.
Players first signed at 18 years old must be added to the 40-man roster within five seasons or they become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons.
Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, which is Dec. 12 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster the entire season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com.