In the annual Rule 5 Draft, the San Francisco Giants picked up four new names, and lost only one young player.
The biggest name is the Giants’ only pick in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 draft, in which they picked Dedniel Nuñez, a RHP from the New York Mets. In the Triple-A phase, the Giants selected outfielder Vince Fernandez from the Colorado Rockies, RHP Ronnie Williams from the St. Louis Cardinals, and second baseman Mitchell Tolman from the Mets. Also in the Triple-A phase, the Giants lost infielder Jalen Miler, as he was picked by the Atlanta Braves.
Rule 5 Draft picks in the Major League phase come with a restriction that they must be on the 25-man roster all season. If the Giants drop Nuñez off the 25-man roster, the Mets get the opportunity to take him back. Players taken in the minor league portion have no restrictions. The Giants have taken three Major League Rule 5 players in the last two seasons under Farhan Zaidi (Connor Joe and Travis Bergen in 2018, Dany Jimenez in 2019), but none lasted the full season and were returned to their previous teams.
A total of 74 players were taken in both phases of the draft, the most since 2004. 18 of those players were in the Major League phase, tying for the most since 19 were taken in 2010 (tied with 18 taken in 2016 and 2017).
With that many players taken, some noted it a statement about the quality of the Giants system, not having as many players as highly valued as other farm systems had.
Nuñez, 24, spent almost all of 2019 as a starter, with a 4.39 ERA splitting time between Low and High-A in the Mets system. He had 94 strikeouts and 23 walks in 80 innings, and allowed a .239 batting average to opposing hitters. Nuñez has a fastball with an elite spin rate, and it got up to 97 MPH in Instructional League this fall. He pairs it with a slurvy breaking pitch around 80 MPH, and also has a changeup. Reports are that the Giants will try to make him a reliever to help him cope in the majors. Baseball America had ranked Nuñez as the Mets’ 21st best prospect.
Fernandez, 25, slashed .257/.346/.543 in the 2019 season at Double-A with Hartford in the Rockies system. In 74 games, he hit 15 home runs and had 15 doubles. However, he was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for amphetamine. In his last full season, 2018, Fernandez hit 24 home runs, 8 triples, and 25 doubles in 117 games, with a .265/.370/.532 slash line. He was a 10th round pick in 2016 out of UC Riverside, and comes from Livermore, CA.
Williams, 24, had a 4.01 ERA in 44 games of relief across High-A and Double-A in 2019, in 58.1 IP. Overall, he had 58 strikeouts and 29 walks. Williams was a second round draft pick in 2014, and showed strong control early on but has struggled with control and injuries, missing much of the 2018 season. He works with a low-90’s fastball that has sink and a strong changeup, but his breaking pitches have struggle to be effective lately.
Tolman, 26, hit .256/.342/.362 in 128 games primarily in Double-A and a dozen games in Triple-A. Tolman had six home runs with 20 doubles overall in 2019. Like Fernandez, he had a 50-game suspension, for Tolman back in 2018, something he called a bad decision. The left-handed hitter was a 7th round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2015 out of Oregon, and joined the Mets as a free agent after the 2020 season, but only lasted a month there before the Giants picked him.
Miller, 23, hit .216/.287/.332 in Double-A Richmond for the Giants in 2019. Miller has a career batting line of .235/.291/.352 across five seasons, with his stop in Double-A being his highest achieved level. He was the Giants’ 3rd round pick in 2015 out of high school near Atlanta, and now will return to the region to play for the Braves system.
15 of the 18 players taken in the Major League phase were pitchers, which supports the Giants’ decision to add three pitchers (Camilo Doval, Gregory Santos, Kervin Castro) to the 40-man roster in the past weeks to protect them from being taken.
Dany Jimenez, who the Giants took in the 2019 Rule 5 Draft but returned to the Toronto Blue Jays during the 2020 season, was drafted again. This time, he was taken by the Oakland Athletics. Jimenez became the first Blue Jay to have been selected twice in the Rule 5 Draft. Jimenez only appeared in two games, giving up one run in 1.1 innings, with three walks, one hit allowed, and one strikeout.