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Former SF Giants infielder Kelby Tomlinson retires

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Kelby Tomlinson #37 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the San Diego Padres in the bottom of the seventh inning at AT&T Park on September 26, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Kelby Tomlinson #37 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the San Diego Padres in the bottom of the seventh inning at AT&T Park on September 26, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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SF Giants, Kelby Tomlinson
May 14, 2018; San Francisco, CA; SF Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson (37) throws the ball against the Cincinnati Reds during the fourth inning at AT&T Park. (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

According to the minor league baseball transactions wire, infielder Kelby Tomlinson has retired from professional baseball. Tomlinson was drafted by the SF Giants in 2011 and spent the next seven years with the organization, including stops with the big-league club from 2015-2018. Tomlinson signed a minor league contract with the Colorado Rockies last month but hit just .188 in eight games at Triple-A.

Former SF Giants infielder Kelby Tomlinson retired.

Selected in the 12th round out of Texas Tech, Tomlinson was a soft-hitting infielder with plus-plus speed who slowly moved up the organization’s minor league depth charts. In his first few seasons in the organization, the infielder primarily played shortstop and posted a mid-.600s OPS. Then, in 2014, Tomlinson spent the entire season at Double-A, posting a mediocre .268/.340/.323 triple-slash while splitting his time between second base and shortstop. While his line was nothing to write home about, he stole 49 bases and was clearly not overmatched by upper minors competition.

Tomlinson returned to the field in 2015 producing at the plate like he never had before in full-season ball. In 97 games between Double-A and Triple-A, Tomlinson hit .321/.376/.414 and earned a promotion to the big leagues. Then, against MLB competition, he continued generating a new level of productivity. In 193 plate appearances with the Giants, Tomlinson hit .303/.358/.404 and looked like a potential everyday player. That offseason, the Giants attempted to move Tomlinson to center field to see if he could find a super-utility role in the team’s future.

Tomlinson never took to the outfield defensively, but more importantly, his power never returned to those 2015 levels. From 2016-2018, he appeared in 219 games for the Giants, but while he could play all over the diamond defensively, he hit just .250/.320/.302. In his final season with the Giants (2018), his offense cratered to .207/.265/.264. As a result, the Giants non-tendered him following the season, making him a free agent. Tomlinson had minor league stints with the Mariners and Diamondbacks in 2019 and signed a pair of minor league deals with the Rockies in 2020 and 2021. However, he never returned to the majors.

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Kelby Tomlinson was an unexpected but key contributor to the SF Giants postseason run in 2016. The historically soft-hitting infielder found another level of productivity at the plate that helped him carve out a niche on the Giants roster over a multi-year span. Now that he’s hanging up his cleats at 31 years old, he has plenty of time to look back on his noteworthy professional career.

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