WASHINGTON -- The Nationals added five players to their 40-man roster on Friday, headlined by right-hander Austin Voth, in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8, the final day of the Winter Meetings.
Voth, the club's No. 9 prospect as rated by MLBPipeline.com who was just named pitcher of the week in the Arizona Fall League, is joined by outfielder Rafael Bautista, first baseman Jose Marmolejos, catcher Raudy Read and infielder Matt Skole. The Nationals now have 36 players on their 40-man roster after the additions, which were required to be made ahead of Friday's deadline at 5 p.m. ET.
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Adding Voth to the roster was the most obvious decision of the bunch considering he could be on track to reach the Major Leagues at some point in 2017. He posted a 3.15 ERA in 27 games including 25 starts at Triple-A Syracuse, and he had the third-best ERA in the International League. Voth's 133 strikeouts led the Nationals' system and were tied for fifth in the International League. He was invited to his first Major League Spring Training last season and could be called up to provide starting pitching depth at some point in the 2017 season.
Bautista hit .282/.344/.341 for Double-A Harrisburg, leading the Eastern League with 153 hits while stealing 56 stolen bases, which was tied for the most in the Minor Leagues. He was the recipient of the organization's Bob Boone Award and rated by Baseball America as the best baserunner and having the best speed in the Eastern League.
Marmolejos was named the Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year for the second consecutive season after posting an .845 OPS between Class A and Double-A with 13 homers.
After being left unprotected during last year's Rule 5 draft, Skole was added to the roster this year after the best season since he underwent Tommy John surgery. He hit 24 homers with a .774 OPS in 140 games at Triple-A Syracuse, and won a Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove Award at first base.
Read set career highs in nearly every offensive category with Class A Advanced Potomac in 2016 and was named the best defensive catcher in the Carolina League by Baseball America.
Among notable players left off the 40-man roster was left-hander Bryan Harper, the older brother of Bryce, who was knocking on the door of the Majors after a strong 2015 and start of '16 before he was derailed by a strained forearm that ended his season in August. He still finished with a 2.18 ERA among 40 appearances between Double-A and Triple-A, but Harper could be selected by another team during the Rule 5 Draft.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.