Players are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft when they have been in an organization for five years and are not protected on the 40-man roster. The White Sox did not have a player selected out of their system.
The catch for teams that select players is that they have to remain on the major league roster all season or be offered back to their original club before they can be sent to the minor leagues.
The White Sox felt it was a worthy gamble on a solid but raw talent in Nieto, who has never played above the high Single-A level. The odds of Nieto remaining with the White Sox all season are long.
The 6-foot, 200-pound switch-hitter was fifth in the Carolina League last season with a .373 on-base percentage at Potomac. The 24-year old batted .285 with 29 doubles, 11 home runs, 53 RBIs and 68 runs scored in 110 games. At the start of the 2011 season, he served a 50-game suspension for violating the minor league drug prevention and treatment program.
"Any time you take a guy in Rule 5, you are rushing his development a little bit so it's a longer shot of it working out, but this kid made some real nice strides in 2013 in terms of development," general manager Rick Hahn said. "We figure bring him in and give him the shot and have some competition. It doesn't mean by any means we are done in terms of our search for potential upgrades. This is another avenue to try to bring in some talent."
Nieto also had a solid showing in last year's Arizona Fall League and played two games for Spain in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
A native of Cuba, Nieto came to the United States with his parents at age 4 and went to high school in Plantation, Fla. He was a fifth-round draft pick by the Nationals in 2008.
In the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft, the White Sox selected left-handed pitcher Evan Crawford from the Toronto Blue Jays organization and catcher Omar Narvaez from the Tampa Bay Rays. They lost outfielder Brady Shoemaker to the Miami Marlins.