The Nationals selected the contract of three prospects Thursday evening, adding them to the club's 40-man roster and protecting them from being taken away in next month's Rule 5 draft.
None of the three players — infielder Chris Bostick, catcher Spencer Kieboom and left-hander Nick Lee — rank high on the Nationals' top prospects list, but all had been in the organization long enough to require roster protection.
Bostick, one of two players the Nationals acquired from the Rangers last winter for left-hander Ross Detwiler, impressed in his first season with the organization. The 22-year-old infielder hit a combined .258 with 12 homers, 58 RBI and 31 stolen bases in 137 games split between Class A Potomac and Class AA Harrisburg.
The Nationals sent Bostick, who profiles as a middle infielder with some power, to the Arizona Fall League where he has hit .268 with four homers and six stolen bases in 20 games.
Kieboom, the club's fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft, got a taste of big-league camp last spring, then hit .248 with two homers, 26 RBI and a .344 on-base percentage in 71 games at Potomac. The 24-year-old catcher has been a teammate of Bostick's this fall with the Salt River Rafters and is hitting .238 with two homers and a .373 on-base percentage in 13 games.
Lee, an 18th-round pick in 2011, enjoyed a breakthrough season after converting from starter to reliever, posting a 3.12 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 52 combined innings between Potomac and Harrisburg. The 5-fo-ot-11 lefty also has spent the last month pitching in Arizona, where he has allowed three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.
These additions leave the Nationals with 38 players on their current 40-man roster, giving the club some room to work as they prepare for the thick of the offseason. The Winter Meetings take place Dec. 7-10 in Nashville, Tenn., with the Rule 5 draft wrapping up the annual event.
Among the players the Nationals left unprotected were first baseman Matt Skole (the organization's player of the year in 2012) and outfielder Caleb Ramsey (who hit .287 with a .354 on-base percentage at Harrisburg and Class AAA Syracuse this season).