The SF Giants might soon welcome back a young reliever as Nick Avila will not make the Opening Day roster for the Chicago White Sox according to James Fegan of The Athletic. Avila was in camp with Chicago as a Rule 5 pick.
SF Giants News: Chicago White Sox Rule 5 pick will not make Opening Day roster
There are a couple of options that the White Sox could pursue. The easiest option is offering him back to the Giants. As Fegan notes, Chicago could try to retain his roster rights by working out a trade with San Francisco. However, trades of this nature are uncommon. More than likely, he will begin the 2023 season back with the Giants organization.
In a minor surprise, San Francisco left the right-handed reliever unprotected back in November when he was not added to the 40-man roster. The White Sox decided to take a flyer on Avila but were unable to find a way to keep him on the roster. He struggled to the tune of a 7.20 ERA but with 12 strikeouts against three walks in 10 innings during spring training.
The 25-year-old reliever was a 26th round pick by the Giants in the 2019 draft out of Long Beach State University. Like many players drafted in the years leading up the canceled 2020 season, Avila's development was slowed a bit as a result of circumstance. Avila worked out of both the rotation and bullpen in 2021 but moved exclusively to the bullpen last year and this paid off nicely.
The righty reliever posted a very strong 1.14 ERA, 0.976, 9.4 K/9, and a 4.14 ERA in 55.1 frames across two minor league affiliates last year. He finished the year with a 1.13 ERA in 20 appearances in Double-A, so he should begin this season in Triple-A.
Avila flashes a four-pitch mix that includes a mid-90's fastball, cutter, slider, and a curve ball. And, he has pretty good control of all four of his pitches while being able to get opposing hitters to expand the strike zone.
Part of the Rule 5 process is designed to give players an accelerated shot at the majors. That said, Avila could very well be a candidate to debut for San Francisco (assuming he is returned) this season if his performance continues this upward trajectory.