The Washington Nationals have until tomorrow (Tuesday November 20th, 2018) to decide which of their Rule 5-eligible players will be added to the 40-Man roster to protect them from selection in this winter’s Rule 5 Draft, which takes place at the close of the Winter Meetings on December 13th.
As MLB.com’s write-up on the Rule 5 Draft explains, players who are available for selection include those, “... signed when they were 19 or older [who] have played in professional baseball for four years ... [and] players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years.”
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo released lists of the Top 5 minor leaguers on each team who will need to be added to their respective 40-Man rosters to protect them before tomorrow.
Outfielder Telmito Agustin (ranked 13th overall in the Nats’ system by MLB’s scouts), right-handed reliever James Bourque (17th), righty Tomas Alastre (24th), first baseman/outfielder Jose Marmolejos (25th), and corner infielder Drew Ward (29th) are the top-ranked minor leaguers that Washington needed to make decisions on.
This afternoon, the Nationals announced that Bourque has been added to the 40-Man after a 2018 campaign which saw the 25-year-old reliever, selected in the 14th Round of the 2014 Draft, put up a 2.16 ERA, a 2.76 FIP, 12 walks (3.24 BB/9), and 52 Ks (14.04 K/9) in 26 games and 33 1⁄3 innings at High-A Potomac before he was promoted to Double-A Harrisburg and posted a 0.92 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 14 walks (6.41 BB/9), and 24 Ks (10.98 K/9) in 15 games and 19 2⁄3 IP for the Senators.
As the Nationals noted in a press release on the move, Bourque, “... led all Nationals’ Minor Leaguers (min. 50.0 IP) in strikeouts per 9.0 innings (12.91) and hits allowed per 9.0 innings (5.09) while ranking third in the system in ERA (1.70),” and since transitioning to relief work full-time this season, the right-hander has, “... recorded 76 strikeouts, 26 walks and a .169 opponents’ batting average.”
With Bourque’s addition to the 40-Man roster, the Nationals are now at 36 players (37 once the reported deal with catcher Kurt Suzuki is official).
Check out video of James Bourque in action via Adam McInturff and 2080 Baseball, and here is a recent scouting report on the right-hander with notes from his time in the 2018 Instructional League.