HOUSTON -- In preparation for the Rule 5 Draft next month at the Winter Meetings, the Houston Astros protected several Minor League prospects by adding them to their 40-man roster.
The Astros purchased the contracts of right-hander pitchers Matt Albers, Jimmy Barthmaier, Jason Hirsh and Felipe Paulino and outfielder Josh Anderson, adding the players to the roster.
To make room on the 40-man, the club released outfielder Charles Gipson and outrighted right-handed pitcher Jared Gothreaux to Triple-A Round Rock. Additionally, right-handed pitcher Mike Burns was claimed by the Cincinnati Reds on outright waivers on Wednesday.
Albers, 22, was 8-12 with a 4.66 ERA over 28 games (27 starts) for Class A Salem of the Carolina League in 2005. He was originally selected with the club's 23rd-round selection in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft. Albers is a Sugar Land native who attended San Jacinto Junior College.
Barthmaier, 21, was 11-6 with a league-leading 2.27 ERA over 25 starts for Class A Lexington of the South Atlantic League this season. He struck out 142 hitters and walked 55. In one start for Class A Salem, Barthmaier was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA. A native of Roswell, Ga., Barthmaier was selected with the club's 13th-round choice in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.
Named Texas League Pitcher of the Year, the 23-year-old Hirsh was 13-8 with a 2.87 ERA over 29 starts for Double-A Corpus Christi in 2005. He led the league with 165 strikeouts while his 2.87 ERA ranked second in the circuit. Originally selected by the Astros as their first pick (second round) of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft from Cal Lutheran University, Hirsh threw one shutout in 2005 and is 27-16 in three Minor League seasons.
Paulino, 22, was a combined 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA over 20 appearances (seven starts) between short-season Class A Tri-City of the New York-Penn League and Class A Lexington. Paulino struck out 64 hitters in those 55 innings in 2005 while walking only 17 and allowing only 42 hits. He was signed by the club as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2001 from Los Teques, Miranda, Venezuela.
Anderson, 23, led the Texas League with 50 stolen bases for Double-A Corpus Christi in 2005. He led the Hooks with 148 hits and hit .282 with one home run and 26 RBI over 127 games. Anderson was originally selected in the fourth round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of Eastern Kentucky University.
The 33-year-old Gipson hit .182 with one RBI in 19 games for the Astros in 2005. He also hit .303 with two home runs, 25 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 110 games for Triple-A Round Rock. In 373 career Major League games, Gipson has hit .237 with 30 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.
The 25-year-old Gothreaux was 3-8 with a 4.29 ERA over 15 starts for Triple-A Round Rock in 2005.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.