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Bulldog alum Nick Avila selected by White Sox in Rule 5 Draft
Nick Avila
Turlock High alumnus Nick Avila (seen here pitching for the Eugene Emeralds in July 2021) was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the major-league phase of this year’s Rule 5 Draft (Patrick Krohn/Four Seam Images via AP).

Turlock High alumnus Nick Avila will have an opportunity to make his Major League debut in 2023 as he was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the major-league phase of this year’s Rule 5 Draft. Avila, a right-handed relief pitcher, had been in the San Francisco Giants organization since 2019 when he was drafted in the 26th round out of Long Beach State.

Avila was one of just 15 picks in this year’s major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, which allows teams in the offseason who are without a complete 40-man roster to select from a pool of minor leaguers in other organizations to prevent clubs from stashing players in their systems. Since Avila was selected in the major-league portion, he must be placed on the Major League active roster or be offered back to the original team, San Francisco.

White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn spoke about the selection of Avila and has already hinted at the team’s plans for the 25-year-old hurler.

"It's been a little bit since we've made a Rule 5 pick," Hahn told Ryan Taylor of NBC Sports Chicago last Wednesday. "It was made with the intention of Nick potentially being someone who could play a role in our bullpen in 2023. We like the long-term upside, but we would not have made the selection if we didn't think he had a chance to potentially contribute as most likely a multi-inning reliever for us next season."

A 2023 debut would be a significant jump for Avila, who has only pitched as high as Double-A.

Last season between High-A Eugene and Double-A Richmond, Avila achieved a 1.14 ERA and struck out 54 batters while only allowing 14 walks in 55 1/3 innings pitched over 47 appearances. Additionally, he earned 16 saves.

The low ERA and impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio are reminiscent of his numbers under head coach Mark de la Motte at Turlock High School from 2013 to 2015. As a Bulldog, Avila had a 2.33 ERA, 53 punchouts and 19 walks in 51 innings.

“I’m really happy for Nick,” said de la Motte. “He is extremely hard working and this is well deserved [after] going from High-A to Double-A this year.”

If all goes as planned for Hahn and the White Sox, Avila could join a White Sox bullpen that could use the help. Last season, the Chicago pen had the fourth worst ERA in the American League. On the current 40-man-roster heading into 2023, only three of the nine listed relief pitchers had an ERA below 4.00 – Liam Hendricks (2.83), Aaron Bummer (2.40) and Kendall Graveman (3.18).