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White Sox return Rule 5 pick RHP Nick Avila to SF Giants

By Marc Delucchi,


The SF Giants added pitching prospect Nick Avila to their upper minors depth after the White Sox returned the Rule 5 pick.

The SF Giants welcomed right-handed pitching prospect Nick Avila back to the organization on Tuesday. Avila had been competing for an Opening Day roster spot with the Chicago White Sox in spring training, but failed to make the team. The White Sox selected Avila with the 15th overall pick in December's Rule 5 Draft. For the White Sox to keep Avila, he had to remain on the MLB roster for the entire season. Instead, he will return to San Francisco's minor-league ranks.

Avila made seven appearances over the course of his spring with the White Sox. He struck out 12 batters while walking just three across 10 innings of work but was tagged for a pair of costly home runs. Still, his overall performance was better than his 7.20 ERA suggests on the surface.

Avila, who was drafted in the 26th round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of Long Beach State, is coming off a breakout 2022 season. Avila struggled as a long reliever with the Eugene Emeralds in 2021 but returned to High-A with a vengeance when he moved to a more traditional relief role and made some mechanical adjustments.

Avila recorded a 0.95 ERA in 27 appearances with Eugene, striking out 31 hitters in 28.1 innings with 13 saves while issuing just eight walks. He continued to dominate after a promotion to Double-A Richmond. In 27 innings pitched (20 appearances) with the Flying Squirrels, he maintained a 1.33 ERA with 27 strikeouts and six walks.

Despite his elite numbers, the Giants prioritized protecting relief-pitching prospects with more high-octane stuff like Randy Rodriguez and Jose Cruz. Avila's fastball routinely sits in the mid-90s and pairs well with a sharp curveball and cutter. However, he relies more on advanced command and his feel for spin than anything else.

Now back in the SF Giants organization, Nick Avila will likely start the season in the Sacramento River Cats bullpen at Triple-A. If he can replicate his 2022 numbers, it might not be long before he makes his big-league debut.

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