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White Sox pick Nick Avila in Rule 5 draft

Giants Double-A reliever should spend all season on the South Side

Cincinnati Reds v San Francisco Giants
Nick Avila brings a 1.14 Single- and Double-A ERA in 2022 to the South Side.
David Durochik/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Who says the White Sox aren’t making major-league moves!

For the first time in five years, Chicago made a selection in the MLB phase of the Rule 5 draft, plucking right-handed reliever Nick Avila from the San Francisco Giants. Avila immediately joins the big-league roster and must remain there for all of 2023.

That said, Avila seems like he could stick — and thrive.

While pitching roughly age-appropriate to his levels last year at 25, Avila went 4-2 with a 1.14 ERA, a .206 average against, 0.976 WHIP, 16 saves and 58 strikeouts (9.4 per 9 IP) over 47 relief appearances between High-A Eugene and Double-A Richmond. From June 14 to August 9, Avila held opponents scoreless over 15 innings/15 games. Avila made one relief appearance in the Eastern League playoffs, tossing three scoreless innings with six strikeouts for Richmond.

The 6´4´´, 195-pound Avila has gone 9-11 with a 3.66 ERA, 16 saves and 150 strikeouts in 82 appearances (16 starts) over three career minor-league seasons. He has posted a career 3.06 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The 2022 season was Avila’s first working exclusively as a reliever, as he was a starter or swingman in college and early in his pro career.

Avila’s 2021 was not nearly so successful, going 5-7 with a 6.57 ERA for the High-A Eugene Emeralds, starting seven games and relieving in 18.

The White Sox are not averse to “rushing” a player to the majors (Chris Sale, Garrett Crochet, Andrew Vaughn, even to a degree Tim Anderson), and a reliever with just 20 games as high as Double-A and just one full season of minor-league dominance certainly fits the “rush” bill.

But there is limited downside to the move. Sure, Avila’s roster guarantee means that a 40-man spot is eaten up (only three open spots left for the White Sox). But the financial commitment is only $100,000 to make the pick, plus a minimum-salary roster spot on the ball club all year ... so, less than $1 million for a nice-upside short reliever. Worst case, Avila flops, and the White Sox demote him and thus must offer him back to the Giants for $50,000.

The Modesto, Calif. native was selected by San Francisco in the 26th round of the 2019 draft, out of California State University of Long Beach.

This marks the first Rule 5 pick from the White Sox since Dylan Covey, in 2017.