SF Giants top prospects: No. 30 — RHP Dedniel Núñez
Highest Level: High-A (New York Mets system)
Acquired: Rule 5 Draft (2020)
Future-Value Grade: 35+
One of many lower-level starters to excel at last fall’s instructional league in a bullpen role, Dedniel Núñez impressed the SF Giants enough to earn a selection in this winter’s Rule 5 Draft. Thus far in spring training, Núñez has been one of the most impressive arms and might pitch his way onto the Opening Day roster.
A starting pitcher his entire career before last year, Núñez has never pitched above High-A. The 24-year old is somewhat comparable to Giants prospects Melvin Adon and Jose Marte. All three signed at a more advanced age than usual (Núñez was 20 when he made his pro debut) but have flashed premium stuff and struggled to dominate the lower minor leagues.
However, while Adon and Marte struggled as starters with command, Núñez’s issues seemed more linked to his inability to maintain velocity. At instructs, in abbreviated outings, Núñez’s fastball sat around 94 mph and touched 97 mph. While he has flashed that velocity throughout his career, his fastball only averaged 91.5 mph in 2019 out of the rotation. That increased velocity paired with a curveball that has generated 2600-2700 RPM should give him two above-average or better pitches.
Doval has a better chance at becoming one of the best relievers in baseball. With that said, Núñez seems far closer to contributing in a high-leverage role.
Núñez is the first in a group of pitchers that have seen their stock sore in the absence of a minor-league season. As impressive as they’ve looked in these shortened outings, it’s a far cry from the wear and tear of a full season in relief. Núñez’s 2019 season was cut short by shoulder soreness, and the Rule 5 status only further impedes the Giants in their attempts to develop his potential. Given the plethora of pitchers with big-league experience competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster, Núñez has little room for error. So far, though, he’s risen to that standard.