After the news broke that the San Francisco Giants were not going to be able to sign superstar free agent Aaron Judge, the Rule 5 Draft occurred.  For the first time under Farhan Zaidi, the Giants did not make a pick in the MLB portion of the draft, but still got a player picked in the draft, and lost nine players of their own.

The Giants ended up with catcher Blake Sabol, who was taken by the Cincinnati Reds with the fourth pick of the Rule 5 draft, taken from the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Giants had the 12th pick in the draft, and chose not to take anyone with their choice.  The Giants got Sabol via trade, in exchange for a PTBNL and cash considerations.  Although not selected by the Giants, Sabol is still bound by the roster limitations for the 2023 season as other Rule 5 selections are.

Meanwhile, the Giants lost nine players in the two sides of the Rule 5 draft: one player in the Major League portion, and then eight players in the minor league portion.  They lost RHP Nick Avila to the Chicago White Sox with the 11th pick in the Rule 5 draft.  In the minor league portion, they lost the following eight players:

• RHP Wei-Chieh Huang (to Pittsburgh)
• C Ronaldo Flores (to the Los Angeles Angels)
• RHP Taylor Rashi (to Arizona)
• OF Armani Smith (to Minnesota)
• 1B Francisco Tostado (to Seattle)
• RHP Brooks Crawford (to Cincinnati)
• RHP Yoniel Ramirez (to Philadelphia)
• RHP Willian Suarez (to the Los Angeles Angels)

The Giants did not make any selections in the minor league portion of the draft either.

In all, 15 players were taken in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 draft, and 67 were taken in the minor league portion.  The organization that lost the most players on the day was the Pittsburgh Pirates, who lost 12, including Sabol.

Sabol, 24, played in a combines 123 games in 2022, with 98 games in Double-A Altoona, and 25 games at Triple-A Indianapolis.  Overall, he hit .284/.363/.497 with 26 doubles, six triples, and 19 home runs.  Sabol is a rare left-handed hitting catcher, that could pair well with right-handed hitting Joey Bart as a catching team behind the plate.

Sabol was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2019 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a full-time outfielder.  After the cancelled pandemic season, Sabol began playing as a part-time catcher in 2021, but in 2022, he played almost exclusively defensively as a catcher, with just one game in the outfield.  Baseball Americacalled him “limited enough at catcher” that he may not be able to stick at the position.  Sabol joins Austin Wynns and Bart as catchers on the Giants 40-man roster.

RHP Nick Avila, 25, was the Giants 26th round pick in the 2019 draft out of Long Beach State.  Over 47 games between High-A and Double-A, Avila had a 1.14 ERA with 58 strikeouts to 14 walks in 55.1 innings on the season.  Avila had a 0.98 WHIP and held hitters to just a .206 batting average, using a mid-90’s fastball, along with a curve, a slider, and a cutter.  He gets a lot of swingthroughs on all his pitches.  He stands a good chance of sticking with the White Sox all season on the big league roster.

While there is a chance Avila could be returned to the Giants if he doesn’t stick on the big league roster, none of the players taken in the minor league portion have any roster restrictions or need to be returned.

RHP Wei-Chieh Huang, 29, had a 4.40 ERA over 23 games, 13 of which were starts, with Triple-A Sacramento.  He had 89 strikeouts and 31 walks in 71.2 innings in Triple-A, and had a 1.37 WHIP.  The Giants signed Huang as a free agent before the 2022 season, after he hadn’t pitched in affiliated baseball since 2019 in the Rangers organization.

C Ronaldo Flores, 20, played 26 games in 2022, playing 21 games at Low-A San Jose and five in High-A Eugene, batting .263/.294/.475 between the two levels, with a career-high five home runs.  The most games Flores has played in a season is 51 games, in 2019 in the Dominican Summer League.  Flores was originally signed by the Giants in 2018 as an international free agent.

RHP Taylor Rashi, 26, had a 2.83 ERA over 30 relief appearances at Double-A Richmond, with 52 strikeouts and 13 walks in 35.0 innings.  Rashi held batters to a .171 batting average and a 0.97 WHIP.  Rashi bounced back from having a 4.44 ERA in 2021 at High-A Eugene.  Rashi was originally a 23rd round pick in the 2019 draft out of UC Irving.

OF Armani Smith, 24, split the season between Double-A Richmond and High-A Eugene.  Overall, he had a batting line of .229/.334/.333 with 13 doubles, two triples, and six home runs in 99 games on the season.  Smith had a breakout season in 2021, hitting .290/.353/.476 over 84 games between Low-A and High-A.  Smith, a Walnut Creek native, was a 7th round pick in the 2019 draft out of UC Santa Barbara.

1B Frankie Tostado, 24, has spent the last two seasons in Richmond, where he was an incredibly popular player.  In 2022, Tostado hit .284/.330/.459 with 11 home runs over 77 games before a broken hand ended his season in mid-July.  Tostado was originally drafted in 2017 in the 19th round by the Giants out of Oxnard Community College.

RHP Brooks Crawford, 26, had a 3.18 ERA over 43 games in High-A Eugene over the 2022 season.  He had 64 strikeouts to 20 walks in 56.2 innings on the season.  Crawford’s breakout was in 2021, when he had a 1.96 ERA in Low-A San Jose with 57 strikeouts to seven walks.  The Giants originally picked Crawford in the 29th round of the 2019 draft out of Clemson.

RHP Yoniel Ramirez, 21, spent much of the season in the ACL before a brief callup to San Jose.  He had a 2.70 ERA over 14 relief appearances in the ACL with 26 strikeouts to seven walks in 16.2 innings, before having a 5.79 ERA in nine relief appearances at San Jose, where he had 16 strikeouts to 10 walks in 14.0 innings.  It was Suarez’s second year in the ACL.  He was originally signed as an international free agent in May 2018, and made his debut in the DSL later that season.

RHP Willian Suarez, 24, split the season between the ACL and San Jose.  He had a 3.60 ERA over 14 relief appearances in the ACL, and followed that up with a 4.76 ERA in 12 relief appearances in San Jose.  Overall, he had 91 strikeouts to 24 walks in 47.0 innings.  Suarez was originally signed as an international free agent in 2015, and spent four seasons in the Dominican Summer League before coming over to the ACL for the first time in 2021.