The SF Giants received some unfortunate news on Friday as it was announced that their Rule 5 draft pick would need Tommy John surgery.
SF Giants Rule 5 draftee to undergo Tommy John surgery
Núñez was plucked away from the New York Mets organization in December as a Rule 5 pick, so the right-handed hurler had a good shot at making the Opening Day roster.
Before joining the Giants, Núñez had registered a 4.47 ERA, 1.315 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, and a 3.20 SO/W ratio across three minor league seasons, reaching as high as Single-A. Though he worked primarily as a starter with the Mets, the Giants believed that his repertoire would play better in the bullpen.
Núñez made four Cactus League appearances with San Francisco where he yielded four earned runs on four hits, three walks, and two strikeouts across 3.1 frames. Ordinarily, the righty had flashed a fastball that sat comfortably in the mid 90’s that he paired with an above-average curveball.
However, in his final appearance this spring, the radar gun clocked Núñez’s fastball at several ticks below normal, so there was an immediate concern and he was removed after just three batters.
The Giants will have to wait awhile before the 24-year-old pitches on the mound again. The recovery time for Tommy John surgery ranges from 12 – 18 months. With that being said, relievers can return closer to that 12-month mark as less stamina is required for the role.
With a Rule 5 pick, the hope is that the team can find a hidden gem who can become a productive role player. It does not always work out that way as Giants fans have seen in recent years. Since 2018, San Francisco has scooped up Drew Ferguson, Travis Bergen, and Dany Jiménez, but none of the three solidified themselves with the club.
It is an unfortunate break for Núñez. The rehab process is lengthy, but it is not uncommon for pitchers to throw better once they return from the injury. Núñez could be the next in line to follow that path.