Renato Nunez is one step closer to the big leagues.
On Thursday, the Oakland A's added their talented third base prospect to the 40-man roster to protect him from the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Nunez was eligible for the Rule 5 draft as a player who signed his first contract in 2010 when he was 16 years old. To make room for Nunez on the A's 40-man roster, Oakland exposed Alex Hassan to waivers. He was claimed by the Baltimore Orioles.
Nunez finished second in the A's organization in homeruns in 2014 with 29 for High-A Stockton. The native of Venezuela hit .279/.336/.517 for the Ports this season and made strides defensively. Although still a work-in-progress at third base, Nunez made the routine play far more regularly in 2014 than he had in previous seasons, cutting his error total down from 40 in 113 games to 15 in 88 games.
Nunez is currently competing in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he has a .281/.368/.458 line in 96 official at-bats. It is Nunez's first season competing in the "big league" version of the prestigious winter league.
Hassan's stay in the A's organization lasted all of three days, as he was claimed by Oakland earlier this week from the Boston Red Sox. He lands in Baltimore, where Hassan could have a better opportunity of making their Opening Day roster. Baltimore currently has three outfielders on the free agent market: Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis and Delmon Young. They recently finished second in the "race" to sign free agent DH Billy Butler, who signed with Oakland on Wednesday.