In a bit of a surprising move, the White Sox did in fact do something during the MLB Winter Meetings.
It was announced that the team selected right-handed pitcher Nick Avila from the San Francisco Giants with the 15th pick in the Rule 5 Draft. In doing so, the White Sox’ 40-man roster now sits at 37.
Avila, 25, is a former 2019 26th-round pick of the San Francisco Giants. He is coming off of a season with the Giants in which he pitched at both High-A and Double-A, posting a 1.14 ERA across 55.1 combined innings out of the bullpen. He posted a strikeout rate of around 27% at both levels while seeing his walk rate decrease from High-A (7.2%) to Double-A (5.9%). Partially a victim of the COVID-cancelled 2020 season, Avila took a step forward in 2022 after struggling to a 6.51 ERA in 76 innings in High-A in 2021.
Because of his minor league performance this season, many of those covering the Giants were surprised to see that the team chose not to protect him before this draft. He features a fastball that gets into the mid-90s with sink, inducing a heavy amount of ground balls. He also features a curveball and changeup that graded as relatively average throughout his career, which is likely what saw him transition to a relief role and find success there.
Heading into his age-25 season, Avila was a bit old for the levels he was playing at, which is probably why the White Sox feel a bit more comfortable bringing him directly to the majors. He will likely replace Jose Ruiz as the team’s low-leverage option at the back end of the bullpen or else be sent back to the Giants if he does not remain on the roster for the entire season.
It’s worth mentioning that his time in San Francisco overlapped with Ethan Katz’s, and they know one another. For a team that certainly doesn’t usually take Rule 5 players – with Dylan Covey being the most “successful” of the recent ones taken – it seems interesting that they went to San Francisco in order to make this selection. Perhaps Katz knows something here.
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