One of the hardest-throwing, most tantalizing pitchers in the Giants’ farm system was designated for assignment Monday.
Right-hander Gregory Santos, 23, was the victim of a roster crunch as the Giants clear space for their free agent additions. While his upper 90s heater and wipeout slider made him an exciting enough prospect to add to the 40-man roster, his inability to consistently throw strikes or get outs spelled his end with San Francisco.
Free agent starter Sean Manaea takes the roster spot vacated by Santos, and the Giants will have to clear one more spot when they officially introduce Carlos Correa on Tuesday.
Originally acquired from the Red Sox for Eduardo Nunez in 2017, Santos was a recurring member of the Giants’ taxi squad and appeared in five games for them between 2021 and ’22. In 5⅔ innings, he walked five batters and allowed seven earned runs, a career 11.12 big-league ERA.
Despite his big-league numbers, Santos should almost certainly get claimed on upside alone.
His prospect status peaked in 2019, according to Baseball America, which ranked him the Giants’ No. 7 prospect at the time and said he “may have the highest upside of any pitcher currently in the system.”
Santos was originally added to the 40-man roster in November 2020, to protect him from a Rule 5 draft that was ultimately canceled by the pandemic. In 2021, he jumped from High-A to Triple-A — and eventually a brief stint in the majors — but has struggled to get hitters out above A ball.
In 48⅔ innings with Triple-A Sacramento the past two seasons, Santos had a 4.99 ERA while walking a batter about once every two innings. However, he did flash his strikeout stuff, with about one per inning.
The Giants ultimately valued other players at the end of the 40-man roster more.
They recently spent a spot on catcher/outfielder Blake Sabol, a Rule 5 pick whom they acquired from Cincinnati; if they want to keep him, he has to remain on the active, 26-man roster, too. Once thought to be a DFA candidate, it appears Tommy La Stella may also survive the offseason on the roster, the way Giants brass have talked about him so far.
At 27, Yunior Marte is 4 years older than Santos but similarly struggled to get big-league hitters out, in a much larger sample (48 innings, 5.44 ERA). Randy Rodriguez, who is also 23, was added to the 40-man a season after Santos and has yet to reach the majors. They also made the decision to protect another young pitching prospect from the Rule 5 draft, like they did with Santos, in 22-year-old Jose Cruz, who isn’t expected to contribute in the majors this season.
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