While it was expected that the White Sox would select a catcher in the Rule 5 draft, the Sox surprised by selecting Adrian Nieto from the Washington Nationals. Nieto is a 24-year-old switch-hitter who has not yet played above high-A Potomac in the Nationals system. He hit .285/.373/.449 for Potomac last season
Nieto was a fifth-round draft pick of the Nationals in 2008 out of high school. While he's probably an unknown to all of us, calling him an unknown to the Sox is not accurate. He has been playing in the South Atlantic and Carolina Leagues since 2010 and would have been seen by Kannapolis and Winston-Salem regularly over the past three years. Nieto also played in the Arizona Fall League this season and was selected for the Fall Stars Game.
There is another important factor in selecting Nieto -- he's Cuban. He left the country with his father, mother, and 17 others on a 20 foot boat in 1995. In addition, his father is a Spanish citizen so he participated in the WBC for the Spanish team.
Nieto also has something else in common with other White Sox teammates: He was suspended for 50 games in 2011 for testing positive for a banned substance.
In the Triple-A portion of the draft, the Sox made two picks. For the first pick, the Sox selected 27 year old LHP Evan Crawford from the Blue Jays. Crawford pitched for the Blue Jays in 2012. Over 10 games, he put together a 6.75 ERA over eight innings with four walks and five strikeouts. He was on the Blue Jays 40-man roster through June 2013 when he was DFA'd. He chose to stay with the Jays, but was even left off the AAA roster for this offseason.
Crawford was originally an eighth-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2008. In 2011, Crawford put together a nice 3.7 BB/9 and 10.9 K/9 over 51 innings in Double-A. He's had some injuries the past two seasons and these numbers have degraded to 4.6 BB/9 and 8.8 K/9 over two stops last season. In the limited data available, he has a low 90's fastball with a slider and a curve. He seems likely to be able to stick at Triple-A and is a decent candidate for "Coop'll fix him" in Spring Training. He would be on the outside looking in to break camp as a LOOGY for the Sox, but has a chance to be a callup for injuries during the season.